- Associated Press - Monday, January 14, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) - The newly crowned Miss American says she understands the hardships facing average women.

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday, Mallory Hagan says she went to school and worked full time before winning Miss New York and clenching the Miss America crown.

The 23-year-old says she understands “what it’s like to do all these things day-to-day and still maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Hagan was crowned Saturday night. She raised the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.

She tells GMA she looks forward to educating and advocating on the issue during her year reign.

Hagan moved from Alabama to New York City as soon as she became a legal adult. She lives in Brooklyn, the city’s most-populous borough

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

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.

Hagan, who resides in New York’s most-populous borough of Brooklyn, said she was sure someone else would take the top prize, even after she made it to the final two contestants.

She said she was standing on the stage thinking, “They’re going to get another first runner-up photo of me.”

Her father was not nearly so modest.

“We’re super excited, super exhilarated, super proud of her,” Phil Hagan said in an interview with The Associated Press backstage immediately after his daughter’s victory. “We’re not extremely surprised, either.”

Story Continues →