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Teen pageant winner loses title for being 20 days too old

Aspen Brito won the Jr. Miss Antelope Valley Pageant but was stripped of the title after another contestant's parent complained about her age.
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It was a dream come true when Leona Valley 15-year-old Aspen Brito was crowned the winner of the Jr. Miss Antelope Valley Pageant on Saturday, but that feeling didn't last long.

Just two hours after the pageant was over, her title was taken away.

"Words can't really describe how I felt right then," Aspen said.

She was the first young lady from Leona Valley to win the pageant in 60 years.

"I heard that a parent made a complaint to the Jr. Miss Antelope Valley committee, that they looked at my birth certificate, my records, my personal records, and they said I was too old," she said.

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The committee said she was too old by just 20 days to qualify for the competition.

"The committee has always had her birth certificate and they knew her birthday, and at no time did anybody every bring up the fact that there was an age discrepancy," said her mother, Denise.

It was mandatory that Aspen enter the pageant after she won the Jr. Miss Leona Valley competition last March. What bothers the director of the Leona Valley pageant is how the issue was handled.

"It was taken away from her, ripped out from under her," said Leona Valley pageant director Susie McGuffee. "It should have been handled on Monday in a meeting called by the Jr. Miss Antelope Valley directors."

"We've not heard from the Jr. Miss Antelope Valley committee since Saturday," McGuffee said.

Now the Britos are seeking legal advice about what to do next. In the meantime, Aspen still has her trophy, sash and crown.

As for future pageants, Aspen isn't sure if she'll participate again, but she is sure she wants this title.

"With everything that they put me through, it definitely has lost some meaning. But I know it's worth fighting for to represent Antelope Valley," Aspen said.