Mallory Hagan, A 23-year-old contestant from Brooklyn, N.Y., has won the title of Miss America.
The Las Vegas beauty pageant Saturday night after tap dancing to James Brown’s “Get Up Off of That Thing” and answering a question about whether armed guards belong in grade schools by saying we should not fight violence with violence.
Hagan 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 gets the crown for one year. Her platform was stopping child sexual abuse. Her hometown is Brooklyn and she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her platform issue is child sexual abuse prevention and she plans to obtain a degree in cosmetics and fragrance marketing, according to her bio, with an eye toward a career in global cosmetics marketing. She was tops with the judges in the swimsuit competition during Saturday night’s show, and she performed a mean tap dance to James Brown’s Get Up Offa That Thing.
She is expected to spend her title reign on a nationwide speaking tour and raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network, the organization’s official charity.
The night kicked off with ABC hosts Chris Harrison (The Bachelor) and Brooke Burke-Charvet (Dancing With the Stars) introducing the 53 contestants (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), who introduced themselves with sassy state sayings, including:
-”From the state that brought you Channing Tatum, People’s Sexiest Man Alive, You’re Welcome. I’m Anna Laura Bryan, Miss Alabama.”
-”From the state where your vote counts, and counts, and counts, I’m Laura McKeeman, Miss Florida.”
-”From the state that celebrates diversity — from Scarlett O’Hara to Honey Boo Boo, I’m Leighton Jordan, Miss Georgia.”
-”From the home of Abraham Lincoln — before he was a movie, I’m Megan Ervin, Miss Illinois.”
-”From the home of Aerosmith, rock on, America. I’m Taylor Kinzler, Miss Massachusetts.”
-”From the state that weds 150 couples each day in Las Vegas — Tim Tebow, what do you say we make it 151? — I’m Randi Sundquist, Miss Nevada.”
-”Sandy may have swept away our shores, but never our spirit. I’m Miss New York, Mallory Hagan.”
-”From the state where we use sushi as bait, and, no, y’all are the ones with the accent, I am Miss South Carolina, Ali Rogers.”
And there’s Mariah Cary, Miss Iowa.
Said Burke-Charvet, “I feel great. It’s gonna be a good night!”
First up: A special “America’s choice” semi-finalist, chosen from online voting based on contestant vidoes: Miss Montana Alex Wineman, the first contestant in the pageant to have been diagnosed with autism.
Doing the judging: Entertainment Tonight veteran host Mary Hart, designer Bradley Bayou, Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, GMA weatherman Sam Champion, Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke, Shark Tank star Daymond John and Miss America 2009 Katie Stam Irk.
Two of the contestants who received a lot of attention before the pageant did not make it to the Top 10. Miss District of Columbia Allyn Rose will undergo a double mastectomy now that the competition is over as a preventive measure because cancer runs in her family. And Miss Montana Alexis Wineman was the Miss America organization’s first autistic competitor.
Now, for the all-important final question time!
First up: Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton. She drew judge Cheryl Burke, who asked, “What are you thoughts on how sensational reality shows like Honey Boo Boo andToddlers and Tiaras portray their mothers, young girls and the world of pageants?”
Her answer: “Even though we do think they live an outrageous lifestyle, at the end of the day you have to admit that mother loves her daughter …You have to remember these are reality shows and we just have to take them with a grain of salt.”
Next: Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers. Judge Katie Stam Irk brought up Brent Musberger’s comments about quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend, asking if they “objectify women.”
Her response: “As a football fan and as someone who would like to be featured.. at a football game, I think he has every right to point out her beauty. She is, in fact, gorgeous. I think this is something we can display not only on the Miss America stage, but hey, at a football game, too.”
Next: Miss New York Mallory Hagan. Sam Champion asked about gun control and a proposal to have an armed guard in every school. “Do you think that would make our schools safer?”
“I actually don’t,” she said. “I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence.” She urged education about guns.
Fourth: Miss Iowa Mariah Cary. Bradley Bayou asked about marijuana legalization and whether it’s the right direction for our country. “I think that depends on the situation. I personally know people who have had to go to medical marijuana for their last resort for their health care and I support that. However, I do not think it should be used for anything but recreational use and health care.” Oops!
Final question went to Miss Wyoming Lexie Madden. She was asked by McKayla Maroney if parents are being too quick to medicate for attention deficit disorder.
Her answer: “It comes down to a parent’s choice. but ultimately if they want to medicate their child they also need to look for alternative options to truly fix the problem and not just cover it up with medication.”
Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler took her final walk before relinquishing the crown. And then came the big news …
Fourth runner-up: Miss Iowa Mariah Cary
Third runner-up: Miss Wyoming Lexie Madden
Second runner-up: Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton
Runner-up: Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers
And the new Miss America is Miss New York! Mallory Hytes Hagan takes the crown.