published Sunday, January 13th, 2013, updated Jan. 13th, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.

Alabama town celebrates native winning Miss America

OPELIKA, Ala. — The east Alabama city of Opelika is celebrating after a hometown woman won the Miss America pageant.

  • photo
    Miss New York, Mallory Hagan, right, reacts with Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers as she is named Miss America 2013 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Mallory Hagan competed as Miss New York, but she grew up in Opelika and moved to New York a few years ago.

Tina Gunnels remembers Hagan sitting on her deck about a decade ago and saying she wanted to become Miss America. As Gunnels says: “She accomplished that goal.”

Another neighbor in Hagan’s old neighborhood, Melinda Meals, says Hagan came across on TV during the pageant as a normal person having a good time, not as a “Barbie.”

Friends of Hagan gathered at an Opelika restaurant to watch the pageant, clapping and cheering when she won.

Hagan graduated from Opelika High School and went to Auburn University before moving to New York.

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