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From a hometown of 26,000 people to an adopted home borough of 2.6 million, Miss America's story includes a journey from a small town to the big city — but it doesn't start there.
Mallory Hagan, 23, moved from Alabama to New York City as soon as she became a legal adult, and though she says she left because "I needed to find myself," it turns out she knew who she wanted to be all along.
"When Mallory was like 13 years old she was sitting on my deck and said, 'Miss Tina, my goal is one day I'd like to grow up to be Miss America,'" said Tina Gunnels, a neighbor from Opelika, Ala., on Sunday. "She accomplished that goal."
Hagan took the crown Saturday night after tap dancing to a James Brown tune, deftly answering a question about gun violence in schools and raising the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.
"I genuinely understand the hardships the average woman faces," having gone to school and working full time before winning Miss New York and clinching the Miss America crown, Hagan said in an appearance Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"I understand what it's like to do all these things day-to-day and still maintain a healthy lifestyle," she added.
CBS Web Copy
A 23-year-old contestant from Brooklyn, N.Y., has won the title of Miss America.
Mallory Hagan won the Las Vegas beauty pageant Saturday night after tap dancing to James Brown's "Get Up Off of That Thing" and answering a question about whether armed guards belong in grade schools by saying we should not fight violence with violence.
Hagan defeated Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who took second, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, who finished third.
Hagan wins a $50,000 college scholarship and gets the crown for one year. Her platform was stopping child sexual abuse.
She is expected to spend her title reign on a nationwide speaking tour and raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, the organization's official charity.