FORT WAYNE – A Miss America pageant hopeful with local ties ended her race for the national crown Thursday after relinquishing her title as Miss Oregon.
Rachel Berry, a 2006 graduate of Carroll High School and a former Miss Allen County, was crowned Miss Oregon on June 30 but, after a post-pageant investigation, was unable to prove she was a resident of the state six months before competing in a qualifying regional pageant in April.
According to Fort Wayne resident Jim Berry, his daughter Rachel’s residency was not an issue until she’d already won both the regional and state pageants.
“Rachel thought she was meeting all the requirements, all along,” her father said. “She received confirmation from the pageant director that she had satisfied the requirement.
“But, when push came to shove, she wasn’t able to provide any official documentation.”
Due to a nondisclosure agreement between Berry and the Miss Oregon pageant, Berry is not permitted to speak with the media.
After Berry’s win, pageant officials asked for proof of residency in the form of a driver’s license, income tax return or motor vehicle registration, her father said.
“She won, fair and square,” he said. “Unfortunately, this was a technicality they hadn’t told her about.”
The Miss Oregon Scholarship Pageant did not return phone calls Thursday.
Relinquishing her title as Miss Oregon means Berry must return the prizes she won from both pageants, including $11,400 in scholarship money.
It also disqualifies her from competing in the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in January.
Berry, 24, will be too old to compete next year.
“Agewise, this was her last chance,” Jim Berry said. “She is extremely disappointed.”
Berry, who received a journalism degree from Chapman University in Orange, Calif., lives in Oregon and is pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. She is also working on a book about “pursuing your dreams,” Jim Berry said.
“This situation will make for an interesting chapter in the book,” he said. “In the large scheme of things, this is just a blip for her. But it’s a disappointment, too.”