Miss America 2013 Mallory HaganDid you watch Miss America 2013 get crowned? What? You're too smart for that kind of thing? Allow me to knock you off that pedestal you've built for yourself. Miss New York, er, Miss America 2013 Mallory Hytes Hagan isn't just gorgeous (although she is certainly that).

She's a 23-year-old who ran for Miss America on a child sexual abuse prevention and managed to come up with a thoughtful response to the question of placing armed guards outside American elementary schools on the spot. Not exactly the topic most of us who avoid pageants (raises hand) expected out of Miss America, but there it was.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was brought out as impetus to ask Hagan, a student at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, whether she supports guards at American schools. And Hagan answered with aplomb:

I actually don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence. I think the proper way is to educate people about guns and the ways we can use them properly. You can lock them up; we can have gun safety classes, a longer waiting period before they are sold. The answer is not to fight violence with violence.

Bam!

Hagan is right. But more to the point, she's intelligent and poised.

She is nothing like the airheads whose soundbites have become viral Internet hits in recent years, making regular Americans shudder at the very word "pageant." Remember Lauren Caite Upton, the South Carolina girl who was up for Miss Teen USA a few years back? She's the one who was asked why one-fifth of Americans can't find the US on a map and responded with a rambling answer that referrenced South Africans and Iraqis.

There are some beauty queens who are just like Upton. Miss Iowa Mariah Cary (yes, that's her real name), tackled medical marijuana in this year's pageant with a rather jumbled answer herself:

I think that depends on the situation. I personally know people who have had to go to medical marijuana as their last resort for health care. I completely agree with that. However, I don’t think it should be used for anything but recreational use in health care.

Um, huh?

But you'll note that neither of those women have won the top spots. Hagan did. She wasn't even a frontrunner in this year's pageant, but she nailed it.

She is Miss America because, well, Miss America isn't just about swimsuits and tap dancing anymore (although Hagan did a killer routine to James Brown’s Get Up Off of That Thing in her tap shoes). Thank goodness!

Were you impressed by this year's Miss America?

 

Image via Getty Images/David Becker