A beauty pageant, with participants competing on the basis of physical beauty, skill, talent, poise or personality, may prove to be a happy or a disappointing experience. To protect against financial risk, Georgia law has specific provisions regulating pageants that charge application or admission fees and that are run by for-profit organizations (O.C.G.A. Sections 10-1-830 through 10-1-838). The law exempts beauty contests run by nonprofit organizations and those where all of the money generated goes to a nonprofit organization.
Operators of for-profit beauty pageants must maintain a sufficient amount of funds to reimburse the contestants if an event is canceled. Georgia law requires either the posting of a $10,000 cash bond, made payable to the Governor, or placement of all contestants’ fees in an escrow account that cannot be accessed until the pageant is over.
If a pageant is canceled, the operator must promptly return contestants’ paid entrance fees. However, a contestant who does not appear for the competition is not legally entitled to a refund of the entrance fee.
Before collecting any fees from a contestant, the organizer must provide each contestant a letter containing the following:
- The operator’s name, address and telephone number;
- The name, address and telephone number of the organization or individual conducting the pageant;
- The names of the pageants the operator usually promotes;
- The name and address of the authorized business representative;
- The name, address and telephone number where the contestant’s fees are held;
- The name, address and telephone number of the company holding the bond; and
- The statement: “The State of Georgia requires bonding or escrow of pageants conducted for the profit of the operators.”
The Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Unit is responsible for enforcing these legal protections and will accept a complaint involving beauty pageants.