Brooklyn resident wins Miss America crown
Miss New York, Mallory Hagan, right, reacts with Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers as she is crowned Miss America 2013 on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 23-year-old blonde from Brooklyn, N.Y., won the Miss America crown Saturday night after deftly dealing with a question about armed guards in schools and raising the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.
En route to her victory in the Las Vegas pageant, Mallory Hagan also tap danced to James Brown's "Get Up Off of That Thing," strutted down the runway in an asymmetrical white gown, and donned a revealing black string bikini.
She defeated Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who took second, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, who finished third.
Hagan wins a $50,000 college scholarship and a year as an instant celebrity and role model to many girls. Her platform, the issue she will promote during her reign, is fighting child sexual abuse.
She told The Associated Press in an interview after her win that it was her mother who encouraged her to tackle the issue. She said that sexual abuse had "rippled through" her family, touching her mother, aunt, grandmother and cousins. Her mother had trouble at first convincing others of the trauma she had faced.
Miss New York Mallory Hagan is crowned Miss America 2013 by Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
"That kind of sent her into a whirlwind of anxiety and depression. So as a teen I lost my mom kind of for a couple years," she said. "She was dealing with her own issues, and that's something that now as an adult I understand, but then I certainly did not."
During an interview backstage, Hagan's mother Mandy Moore wiped tears away as she spoke.
"It's very overwhelming," she said. "It's all hitting me so fast."
Hagan said she will work to make child abuse education mandatory in all 50 states.
"It's something I can hopefully change for the next generation," she said.
Hagan left her native Alabama for New York at 18 with less than $1,000 in her pocket. She began competing in pageants when she was 13 and tried for Miss New York in 2010 and 2011 before winning last year.
She studied communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has been living in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.