Alabama-native Mallory Hagan, who is 'Miss New York,' was crowned Miss America on Saturday night (video below).
Hagan told reporters that she left Alabama because she was “always a little more liberal-thinking” than her peers, reports Mediaite.com.
“It wasn’t that I wanted to leave Alabama. I saw the energy of New York City was something I couldn’t get enough of.”
Hagan moved to New York City four years ago, with less than $1,000 in her pocket, to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.
She has been competing in beauty pageants for a decade, starting as a teen in the Miss Alabama's Outstanding Teen contest.
Hagan, 23, also competed for Miss New York in 2010 and 2011 before finally winning in 2012.
Hagan is the first Miss New York to win the competition since Vanessa Williams 30 years ago, reports the Washington Post.
When asked about posting armed guards during her Q & A segment, Hagan answered: “I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence. I think the proper way is to educate people on guns and the ways we can use them properly. We can lock them up, we can have gun safety classes, we can have a longer waiting period.”
The conservative Media Research Center (MRC) blasted her answer for “espousing liberal conventional wisdom on guns” while ridiculing her for supposedly suggesting that “law enforcement officers carrying guns fuels violence.”
Hagan wins a $50,000 college scholarship and the crown to wear for one year.
During her reign, Hagan plans to help raise awareness of child sexual abuse because women in her family have suffered sexual abuse, reports the Associated Press.
The 92nd Miss America annual show featured contestants from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.