Residents of the Big Apple stood up and cheered heartily on Saturday evening, January 12, when Mallory Hagan, 23, a Fashion Institute Technology student residing in Park Slope, Brooklyn was crowned as Miss America for 2013.
When it was announced that she had won the coveted honor, Ms. Hagan dissolved into tears onstage at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, as she mouthed, “Oh, my God. Thank you,”
An Alabama native who moved to New York several years ago and became Miss Brooklyn in 2010, Ms. Hagan is not exactly a Brooklyn product, but it appears that she has embraced the County of Kings as her home.”In the time I’ve spent in New York, Brooklyn has grown very close to my heart. I love New York (and not in a tourist T-shirt kind of way) and I truly believe this is the city where dreams come true,” she wrote on her blog. “Thank you, Brooklyn, for helping me get one step closer to mine.”
Ms. Hagan has said she came to New York in 2008 with a large suitcase and less than $1,000, dreaming of becoming Miss America and then, someday, a big-time cosmetics executive. She competed for the Miss New York title twice before winning it last year, and wrote that she juggled full-time employment and school in addition to her pageant duties.
“That’s Brooklyn chutzpah,” said Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, who has met Ms. Hagan a few times. “Who’s more Brooklyn — somebody that voluntarily decided to leave wherever they lived and chose Brooklyn to live and reside and whatever? Or someone who was born and raised here and decided to leave us?
“She is Brooklyn,” Mr. Markowitz proclaimed, praising Ms. Hagan’s grit and down-to-earth quality. “She may have a little Southern twang, but we have a Brooklyn twang, too.”
Also hailing her victory for New York was Senator Charles E. Schumer who quipped, “Just goes to show that people from Brooklyn can do everything and anything. Pizza, bagels, beauty and talent — there’s nothing we don’t have in the borough of Kings.”
The last Miss New York to win the Miss America title was Vanessa Williams, the actress and singer, nearly 30 years ago. She relinquished her title after a magazine published nude photos of her less than a year later.
In a recent interview, Hagan described her love of Brooklyn by saying, “I love the diversity in Brooklyn, that you can be in a Hasidic neighborhood one day, a Russian one the next day, and a Latino one after that,” Hagan, who has lived in Bed-Stuy, Sunset Park and Williamsburg, told the Brooklyn Paper.
Ms. Hagan’s victory was credited to her tap dancing to James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing”, her campaign against child sexual abuse, and her adroit response when asked whether schools should hire armed guards. “I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence,” Hagan said firmly. “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.”
Ms. Hagan’s title as Miss America 2013 gives her a $50,000 scholarship and a yearlong run as an advocate and role model. As Miss New York 2012, she focused on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention, an issue that hits close to home. “Hagan has chosen to honor the women in her family who have been victims of sexual abuse by sharing their personal stories and encouraging others to take a stand,” reads her Miss New York profile.