SAN ANTONIO, Tex (Reuters) - A Texas jury on Thursday gave the Miss San Antonio crown back to a 17-year-old woman stripped of the title in January after beauty pageant officials said she ate too many tacos and gained weight.
State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe ordered that Domonique Ramirez be reinstated as Miss San Antonio for the remaining four months of her reign, and that she be allowed to participate in the Miss Texas pageant in July.
Ramirez also will get the scholarship that goes with the crown and will play a key role in San Antonio's annual Fiesta celebration in April.
"I'm very grateful and I'm glad it turned out this way," a tearful Ramirez told reporters after the trial.
The two-month drama of the teenaged beauty queen focused attention on the pressures placed on these young women. During the legal fight, pageant officials disclosed that Ramirez was required in her contract to keep to her weight at the time of the Miss San Antonio pageant.
Ramirez sat throughout the trial in a seat next to the jury box, wearing sleeveless blouses emphasizing a size two frame.
Pageant Chairwoman Linda Woods testified that photographs of the teenaged model in a bikini were unusable, even after they were airbrushed, due to her weight gain.
"Domonique is not fat by any stretch of the imagination," Woods testified. "But her appearance in a bikini was one of the major strengths she brought to the title."
Pageant officials said that in addition to the weight gain, Ramirez breached her contract in other ways. They said she failed to appear at scheduled events or showed up late, failed to write thank you notes, showed up at an event in a skirt deemed "too short," and appeared at a bridal show modeling a wedding dress which the pageant felt was inappropriate for a 17-year-old.
Ramirez' attorney Luis Vera said that her actions were not as bad as pageant officials had said, and at one point he gave a large photograph of Ramirez wearing a bikini to the jurors for examination.
He said the pageant violated its own rules by firing her. The only violations that could lead to termination of a Miss San Antonio, under written pageant bylaws, were pregnancy and marriage, Vera said.
(Editing by Greg McCune)