In the end, it was once again North vs. South at the Miss America pageant Saturday night, and this time it was a Miss New York who triumphed over a Miss South Carolina for the crown.
But wait! It turns out that new Miss America Mallory Hagan is actually an Opelika, Alabama native, who moved north only four years ago to attend Fashion Institute of Technology.
“It wasn’t that I wanted to leave Alabama,” she told reporters after her crowning in Las Vegas. “I saw the energy of New York City was something I couldn’t get enough of.” She added: “I was always a little more liberal-thinking than my home town.”
Indeed: The 23-year-old Brooklynite, who tap-danced her way into the top five (see video), seems to have won over the judges in the end during an onstage Q&A, where she came out against armed guards in schools.
She’s the first Miss New York crown Miss America since Vanessa Williams 30 years ago. She also appears to be — correct us if we’re wrong — the first Miss America in generations, or maybe ever, crowned while wearing a ponytail. She wants to be a cosmetics executive someday. She looks a little bit like Blake Lively, or maybe Julianne Hough, and sounds a little bit like Jenna Bush, don’t you think?
The Associated Press has a full rundown here, including her thoughts on her major cause, child sexual abuse. Other notable developments: Miss Maryland Joanna Guy, a 21-year-old Cornell student, made the top 10 and gave the best singing performance of the night (this year was heavy on dancers) with “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Mis.” (see video) That she did not advance to the top 5 was a big surprise; similarly surprising was the absence of Miss Texas Danae Couch, who lit up the Planet Hollywood theater by twirling three, count them, three batons to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance,” and only dropped one of them once.
But there was no finalist spot at all for Miss Virginia Rosemary Willis, a William & Mary student; nor for Miss D.C. Allyn Rose, whose decision to get a preventative mastectomy got national attention.
An even bigger national story was Miss Montana Alexis Wineman, who has a mild form of autism. She got the spot in the top 15 given to the contestant who wins a vote among viewers — but did not advance to the next level.
But the story you’ll be talking about Monday at work? Probably Miss Iowa Mariah Cary. Her compelling backstory: She suffers from
Tourette’s syndrome. The tap dancer made it into the top 5, but was tripped up by a question on marijuana legalization. Cary made it clear she disapproves, but then apparently just plain misspoke (see video): “I do not think it should be used for anything but recreational use and health care.”
A gasp went through the crowd: Everyone knew that meant the end of her run. She exited as fourth-runner up.