Christine Garcia, Mrs. Illinois, Giving Up Crown Amid Pending Divorce

12/14/2011 03:24 pm ET

Christine Garcia, winner of the 2012 Mrs. Illinois International beauty pageant, is reportedly giving up her crown because she is in the process of getting a divorce.

Christine Garcia told the Sun-Times she has "decided to step down as the current Mrs. Illinois since the pageant honors the accomplishments of married women." She hoped that "people can respect our family’s privacy" despite their curiosity and that her decision "was the right thing to do." John Garcia told Sneed the two are working on their marriage.

The Wheaton-based Mrs. Illinois pageant requires its contestants be married to and living with their spouses for at least six months prior to the pageant. Further, contestants "must be of good health and moral character." Contestants are required to be born female and married to a spouse who was born male. Its entry form [PDF] asks, among several questions, how each applicant met her husband as well as what they feel is "the greatest challenge facing married couples today."

Garcia, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst and works as a publicist, noted in an interview with the Chicago Tribune shortly after her late August crowning that her husband had encouraged her to enter the pageant. Her husband, incidentally, crowned her.

Garcia's main push following her win was to spread the importance of "character education," which she says "improves confidence and personal success, strengthens our communities and lowers crime rates." She carried that message through to Character Counts Week, which she kicked off with York High School students in October, according to Elmhurst Patch.