At the start of the Miss USA broadcast Sunday night, most of Twitter was cheering on Miss D.C. Kára McCullough. But after her controversial responses to questions on universal healthcare and feminism, her social media supporters felt conflicted — especially when she won.
The 25-year-old was initially lauded for her impressive resume. After graduating from South Carolina State University with a degree in chemistry and a concentration in radiochemistry, McCullough now works as a nuclear scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In her free time, she started an outreach program called Science Exploration for Kids to provide science and math tutoring to students in grades 6 to 11.
Near the end of the competition, McCullough and four other contestants faced the question-and-answer portion of the show. She got one of the night’s toughest questions about whether “affordable healthcare for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege.”
“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” McCullough responded. “As a government employee, I am granted health care. And I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs. So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunities to have health care as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide.”
In the final round, just three women were left. Each was asked what she considered feminism to be, and if she considered herself a feminist.
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McCullough again drew ire from social media for her response.
“So as a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word ‘feminism’ to ‘equalism,’ ” she said. “I don’t really want to consider myself — try not to consider myself like this die-hard, you know, like, ‘Oh, I don’t really care about men.’ But one thing I’m going to say, though, is women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”
Regardless of the controversy, judges named McCullough the winner, marking back-to-back victories for the District of Columbia after Deshauna Barber took home the crown in 2016.
McCullough will go on to compete in the Miss Universe competition next year.