The Miss America pageant gave New York something to celebrate after a tough year, crowing 23-year-old Mallory Hagan as the winner of Saturday night's pageant.
The blonde winner introduced herself with a nod to the state's tough time: "Sandy may have swept away our shores, but never our spirit. I'm Miss New York, Mallory Hagan," USA Today reported.
Hagan is the first Miss New York to win the competition since Vanessa Williams won in 1984, the Wall Street Journal reported.
She bested runner-up Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton.
Originally from Alabama, Hagan moved to Brooklyn in 2008 "with less than a grand in my pocket, a BIG suitcase and a lot of hope," New York Magazine reported.
She went to the Fashion Institute of Technology, and she plans to put her $50,000 scholarship a degree in cosmetics and fragrance marketing, USA Today reported.
Hagan's upbeat tap dance routine to James Brown's "Get Up Off of That Thing" and her victory in the swimwear portion of the competition (in which she rocked a black string bikini) helped seal her win, US Weekly reported.
She also faced a question about armed guards in schools in the wake of the Newtown shootings.
"I don't think the proper way to fight violence is with violence," Hagan responded. "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."
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