A 6-year-old Texas girl learned a tough lesson: Lying doesn't pay.
Having reportedly been prodded by her mother to make up a tragic story about losing her father in Iraq, the North Texas child entered an essay contest to win two coveted tickets to a Hannah Montana concert and other prizes.
"My daddy died this year in Iraq," the winning essay read. "I am going to give mommy the Angel pendant that daddy put on mommy when she was having me. I had it in my jewelry box since that day. I love my mommy."
The girl won the contest, but then the truth came out.
"After awarding the grand prize, we unfortunately learned that the statements made in the essay were untrue," said Mary Drolet, chief executive of Club Libby Lu, a salon for tweens that sponsored the concert.
"Club Libby Lu greatly values honestly and integrity. In order to uphold these values, we have decided to withdraw the award," Drolet's statement said.
The prize went to another child instead, reports Monday's Today show, which tracked down the sister of the original "winner"'s mother, who explained that her niece was merely making up a tale.
"It was supposed to be told like a Christmas story, a good Christmas story, basically," said the aunt. "And that's what she wrote, a Christmas story. But she didn't know it had to be true or anything."
A young neighbor of the first entry winner also told NBC that the girl's family is intact, and that the father, a carpet cleaner, is alive and well.
Besides a Hannah Montana makeover at Club Libby Lu – which the 6-year-old was given – the contest's prizes also included tickets to Hannah Montana's sold-out January concert in Albany, N.Y., airfare, hotel and a Hannah Montana gift bag.