Posted on August 15, 2022

Ohio Dem Emilia Sykes Sued Her School After She Lost a University Beauty Pageant

Joseph Simonson, Washington Free Beacon, August 13, 2022

A Democratic congressional candidate sued her college after she lost a hotly contested university beauty pageant, according to court records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

Emilia Sykes, an Ohio state legislator now running for U.S. Congress, filed a lawsuit against Tuskegee University after the historically black institution mistakenly honored her as Miss Tuskegee University in 2006 and revoked her title. Tuskegee University awarded Sykes the victory because her top competitor was mistakenly docked points for a rules violation. The school yanked her crown away when officials realized they had erred in scoring the contest. In reality, Sykes had placed third in the popular vote but was ultimately given second place.

Sykes didn’t handle the defeat with grace, according to legal filings. Sykes and her parents filed a lawsuit against school officials, arguing that she was owed at least $75,000 for the psychological stress caused by the embarrassment of losing her crown.

“Sykes has been subjected to extreme mental and physical anguish, is unable to respond to persons who believe she is Miss Tuskegee University, and has experienced public embarrassment and personal psychological distress,” her lawyers wrote in the lawsuit, which was quickly dismissed by a federal judge.


Her parents also complained in the lawsuit that they had to cancel political fundraisers because of her Miss Tuskegee responsibilities, and that she had already received “gifts or congratulations from the Girls Scouts of America…and U.S. Senator Barak [sic] Obama.” The filing points to myriad local news coverage of Sykes winning the pageant to argue that it was simply too late to take the honor away.

The court disagreed—the lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. district judge Myron Thompson, a Tuskegee native put on the federal court by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. {snip}