By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A woman who grew up in Alabama and moved to Brooklyn is the new Miss America – and Brooklynites are proud, although many are still somewhat skeptical about the pageant itself.
The role is not new to her — Mallory Hagan was also voted Miss Brooklyn in 2010, two years after coming to the borough.
She won the title after tap dancing to a James Brown tune, deftly dealing with a question about guns, and raising the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.
She won a $50,000 college scholarship — she's a marketing and communications major at Manhattan's Fashion Institute of Technology — and a year as an instant celebrity and role model to many girls.
Hagan lives near the 15th Street F Train station on the Windsor Terrace-Park Slope border. Before moving to her current apartment, she also lived in Williamsburg and Crown Heights
Both Borough President Marty Markowitz and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a lifelong Brooklynite, congratulated her.
"On behalf of nearly 2.6 million fellow Brooklynites, I say bravo to Mallory — and we can’t wait to welcome her home and ‘crown’ her Kings County style!” said Markowitz.
Markowitz later told the New York Times, questioned whether she is really “Brooklyn”: “She is Brooklyn. She may have a little Southern twang, but we have a Brooklyn twang, too.”
Schumer added, “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.”
Mallory told the Associated Press in an interview after her win that it was her mother who encouraged her to tackle the issue of child sex abuse in her platform — the issue she will promote during her reign.
She said that sexual abuse had "rippled through" her family, touching her mother, aunt, grandmother and cousins. Her mother had trouble at first convincing others of the trauma she had faced.
"That kind of sent her into a whirlwind of anxiety and depression. So as a teen I lost my mom kind of for a couple years," she said. "She was dealing with her own issues, and that's something that now as an adult I understand, but then I certainly did not."
When contestants were asked to say something about their states, Hagan said, "Sandy may have been swept away our shores but never our spirit."
Vivian Yee of the New York Times was somewhat more skeptical, calling her a “Miss” in a “borough of Ms.” She quoted Jane Hoppen, a local writer, as saying, “We don’t believe in beauty pageants.”
She added that local residents were among the least likely people in the U.S. to watch a beauty contest, and quoted another local resident as saying she would “never in a million years” encourage them to enter a pageant.
On Twitter, one tweet from “Jezebel” questioned whether she indeed was really Brooklyn: “Miss America Lives in Park Slope, Probably Owns $200 Yoga Pants and Won't Shut Up About Yerba Mate.”
Another Twitter user, Hillary Reinsberg, tweeted in a similar vein, “Miss America moved to Brooklyn to "find herself" and her boyfriend works at JP Morgan and went to Amherst ahhh yes.”
On the other hand, Matthew Rodriguez tweeted, “Yes, it's schmaltzy and anachronistic, but I think it's kind of cool that a Park Slope girl won Miss America.”
One thing is clear: Hagan herself embraces Brooklyn.
“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) dearly 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.”