Miss New York Mallory Hagan, an Irish American from Brooklyn, won the Miss America pageant in Law Vegas on Saturday night, walking away with a $50,000 college scholarship.
The 23-year-old beauty tap danced to James Brown's "Get Up Off of That Thing," answered questions about gun control , and raised the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.
Hagan grew up in Alabama and moved to New York City at 18. She studied communication at the Fashion Institute of Technology and lives in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. She aspires to be a global cosmetic company executive.
Hagan told The Associated Press she decided to tackle the issue of child sex abuse in her platform because sexual abuse had "rippled through" her own family. She said her mother, who had been affected by abuse, encouraged her to make it the issue she would promote during her reign. She said her mother had trouble at first convincing others of the trauma she'd faced.
“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.”
Hagan said she would like to see child abuse education mandatory in all 50 states.
“It’s something I can hopefully change for the next generation,” she said.
Hagan tried for the Miss New York title in 2010 and 2011 before winning last year. She is the first winner from the state since actress Vanessa Williams took the crown in 1984.