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Tap dancing Brooklynite is Miss America

Mallory Hagan, 23, who moved from Alabama to New York walked away with the crown in the Miss America competition Saturday night. Hagan's talent was tap dancing, and her platform was mandatory child abuse education in all 50 states.

By Hannah DreierAssociated Press / January 13, 2013

Miss New York Mallory Hagan is crowned Miss America 2013 by Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler on Saturday, in Las Vegas.

Isaac Brekken/AP

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A 23-year-old blonde 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.

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In addition to dancing to "Get Up Off of That Thing," 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.

Hagan 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.

"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 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.

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