LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork/AP) – Miss New York is the apple of America’s eye.
Brooklyn resident Mallory Hagan was crowned Miss America on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old tap danced her way to the title, securing a $50,000 college scholarship and a year of donning the Miss America crown.
Hagan tap danced to James Brown’s “Get Up Off Of That Thing,” and answered a question on guns in schools on her way to the title.
Miss South Carolina was the runner-up and Miss Oklahoma finished in third place.
Hagan said she will fight to raise awareness of child sex abuse during her reign. The issue hits close to home for Miss New York, who told the Associated Press that sexual abuse has “rippled through” her family.
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 tried for the Miss New York title 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.
Hagan, who aspires to be a global cosmetic company executive, ends a long dry spell for New York in the competition. The previous winner from that state was actress Vanessa Williams, who became the first black winner when she took the crown in 1984. Hagan is the first Brooklyn-dweller to claim the title.
During the competition, she survived the cuts as the contestants competed in swimsuit, evening wear, and talent events.
In the final moments of the show, “Good Morning America” weatherman Sam Champion asked her if schools should hire armed guards in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting.
“I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence,” she replied. “I think the proper way is to educate people on guns and the ways we can use them properly. We can lock them up, we can have gun safety classes, we can have a longer waiting period.”
Hagan defeated titleholders from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Several of her competitors had grabbed headlines this year because of their backstories.
Miss District of Columbia plans to undergo a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer, which killed her mother and grandmother.
Miss Montana was the pageant’s first autistic contestant. Miss Iowa has Tourette’s syndrome. And Miss Maine lost more than 50 pounds before winning her state crown.
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