The 2013 Miss America Pageant: Alexis Wineman became 'America's Choice'

Steven Bryan
Yahoo! Contributor Network

The Miss America Pageant certainly has come a long way since the days when the venerable Bert Parks serenaded the winner with his rendition of "There She Is." As the 92nd annual competition showcased on Jan. 12, the pageant is now a truer representation of America's young women. Instead of 53 ladies cut from the same mold, the 2013 contestants embodied some non-traditional qualities.

Nowhere was this more evident than Alexis Wineman. Based on online voting, the 18-year-old Miss Montana became "America's Choice" and the first finalist announced on Saturday evening. Wineman's selection was more poignant because she is the first Miss America contestant that has been diagnosed with autism.

Miss District of Columbia makes a difficult choice
Though Allyn Rose didn't make the top 15 finalists, this young woman made headlines in the days leading up to the pageant. The current Miss District of Columbia announced that she would undergo a preventative double mastectomy after the competition. According to the Associated Press, Rose lost her mother, grandmother, and great aunt to breast cancer.

Superstorm Sandy can't stop a Brooklyn girl from taking the Miss America crown

Though Superstorm Sandy battered her state late in 2012, Brooklyn native Mallory Hytes Hagan was crowned Miss America 2013 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Arguably, Hagan was the front-runner after the talent competition. Tap dancing to James Brown's "Get Up Off Of That Thing," the 23-year-old Miss New York proved that she had moves.

This young woman also made a fine showing in the question round. Judge Sam Champion of "Good Morning America" asked Miss New York about the proposal to have armed guards posted in every school following the Newtown tragedy.

"I don't think the proper way to fight violence is with violence. I think the proper way is to educate people on guns and the ways we can use them properly," Hagan responded.

In the final moments, the competition came down to Hagan and Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers. It's a time-honored tradition to make the top two finalists sweat it out for a few moments before announcing the new Miss America. These two young women handled that tension beautifully, though.

"They haven't eaten carbs in about six years"

The 2013 Miss America Pageant featured rapid-fire eliminations, which meant the losing contestants spent most of the broadcast sitting on one side of the stage. As Chris Harrison pointed out, these women "haven't eaten carbs in about six years," so co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet had doughnuts served to all the also-rans.