Miss America Mallory Hagan: Why I Would Have Been Happy With Runner-up (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Miss America 2013
Miss New York Mallory Hagan takes the crown.
Just seconds before being crowned the newest Miss America, Mallory Hagan’s heart may have been racing. But her mind was at ease with one thought: A worthy woman would win the title.

“I was just standing there and trying to be calm and understand that either way, Miss America was going to have a great representative,” Hagan told Celebuzz. “Ali Rogers from South Carolina is a doll. She was great fun to be around all week long. She would have been a wonderful Miss America, as well, so I was just trying to find some peace in that moment.”

But alas, it was Hagan who was named Miss America 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday, beating out a bevy of beauties with her tap dancing, her committed campaign against child abuse and her astute answer to whether schools should hire armed guards in wake of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Conn. Though past contestants have famously fumbled current-events questions, Hagan was poised thanks to all her training.

“Each one of those young women you saw on stage…were very well prepared for that scenario,” she explained. “We have all been versed on all political and social issues. So any one of us could have answered that question just as well as I hope I did. And I’m just so grateful that I got the opportunity to do so on television.”

Hagan, 23, further readied for competition by calling on her New York City comrades. “A lot of my friends…work in different realms, be it media or finance or any position in which they are well-versed in what’s going on in the world,” she said. “I would have weekly sit-down sessions or roundtables, as I would call them, because I really wanted to be up-to-date and as versed in everyone’s opinions as I could be. There’s a lot that goes into our preparation for Miss America, but also because we’re focused on education; we maintain that in our daily lives.”

And in the end, the studying paid off. Hagan, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, becomes the first Miss New York in nearly three decades to take the crown as Miss America — the last being actress-singer Vanessa Williams in 1984, though she relinquished her title in less than a year after a magazine published nude photos of her.

Now the Alabama native-turned-Brooklyn, N.Y., transplant is looking forward to her responsibilities during her Miss America reign, in which she will continue to raise awareness of child sexual abuse. “I [am] just so overwhelmed and humbled,” she gushed. “I am grateful for the opportunities that are going to come along with Miss America this year.”

Celebuzz Single Player No Autoplay (CORE)
No changes are to be made to this player