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U.S. beauty pageant winner sues after being stripped of crown

By John Clarke

(Reuters) - A beauty pageant winner who was stripped of her Miss Delaware crown for being a few months too old is suing the Miss America organization, saying officials knew her age and disqualified her unfairly, court documents filed on Wednesday show.

The lawsuit filed in Delaware's Court of Chancery by Amanda Longacre seeks $3 million in damages and her reinstatement as Miss Delaware so she can compete in the Miss America pageant in September.

She said she did nothing wrong and was honest when she applied to take part in the pageant, providing her birth certificate, driver's license and other documents.

Rules for the pageant, the state preliminary for Miss America, require that Miss Delaware contestants be no older than 24, and say they cannot turn 25 before the end of the year. Longacre's 25th birthday will be on Oct. 22.

Sam Haskell, chief executive and board chairman of the Miss America pageant, said Longacre would get the $9,000 scholarship given to the winner, as would the new Miss Delaware.

Longacre won the title on June 14, but was replaced in late June by the first runner-up, 23-year-old Brittany Lewis of Wilmington, Delaware.

When pageant officials initially told Longacre she would lose the scholarship money and her title, a senior official at the Miss Delaware Scholarship Organization offered to make it up to her by hosting a wine and cheese pajama party, according to the court documents.

(Reporting by John Clarke in Annapolis, Md.; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

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