Miss Georgia winner declines honor

June 29, 2009 at 11:54 AM

ATLANTA, June 29 (UPI) -- The runner-up in the 2009 Miss Georgia pageant has been named the winner after the first-place finisher turned down the prize, officials say.

Emily Cook, Miss Cobb County (Ga.), was handed the crown and scepter Sunday after Gwinnett County schoolteacher Kristina Higgins refused the title in favor of continuing her education career, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

"Due to my current job responsibilities as a middle school teacher and the responsibilities and time commitment of a Miss Georgia, I have decided to not fulfill the duties of Miss Georgia 2009," Higgins said in a statement released by the Miss Georgia Scholarship Pageant.

Meanwhile, Cook, 22, of Marietta, Ga., who recently was accepted into University of Georgia's law school, is getting ready to compete for the Miss America crown in Las Vegas in January.

"It was a total shock," she told the Marietta Daily Journal.

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