LAS VEGAS -- A woman who grew up in Alabama and moved to New York City is the new Miss America, winning the title after tap dancing to a James Brown tune, deftly dealing with a question about guns, and raising the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.
In addition to dancing to "Get Up Off of That Thing," 23-year-old Mallory Hagan strutted down the runway during the Las Vegas pageant Saturday night in an asymmetrical white gown and donned a revealing black string bikini.
She won a $50,000 college scholarship and a year as an instant celebrity and role model to many girls as she defeated Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who took second, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, who finished third.
She told The Associated Press in an interview after her win that it was her mother who encouraged her to tackle the issue of child sex abuse in her platform -- the issue she will promote during her reign.
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.
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."