The newly crowned Mrs. Nevada America says her husband and three children were among those kicked out by authorities because they said too many people were in attendance in violation of COVID-19 regulations.
"My heart just sank and I got very emotional," Ashley Tesoro told Inside Edition.
The event, which was held at a hotel in Las Vegas, had 200 people in attendance. A statewide mandate enacted in the wake of the pandemic limits capacity to 50 people for indoor social gatherings.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you're here to spectate the pageant, you unfortunately cannot be here," an organizer told the audience on a microphone in a video taken at the event.
Only the contestants and judges were allowed to stay, but pageant officials say the evacuation wasn't necessary. They say all of the contestants maintained social distance, and the spectators tables were spaced six feet apart.
"I was told, by all the powers that be, that we could have 50% capacity of the showroom. That's what was said to us," said Pageant Director Jackie McKenna. "And since we were at 200 and it seated 1,600, we felt we were in total compliance."
Luckily, Tesoro's family was able to come back inside moments before she was crowned.
Tesoro said that although she is glad that she won, she wishes the COVID-19 restrictions hadn't dampened the day.
"It's definitely bittersweet but it's more sweet than bitter because I was still able to go up there and share my heart and that's really what this is all about," Tesoro said.