Newly crowned Miss USA Kára McCullough has clarified the controversial comment she made about health care during Sunday’s live competition in Las Vegas.
The District of Columbia contestant drew social media ire after she called health care a “privilege” during the question-and-answer portion of the competition. However, she reversed her answer during an appearance on Good Morning America Tuesday — instead deeming it a “right.”
“I am privileged to have health care and I do believe that it should be a right,” McCullough, 25, told co-host Michael Strahan. “I hope and pray moving forward that health care is a right for all worldwide.”
McCullough, who is a nuclear scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, also explained why she gave her initial answer during the competition: “I just want people to see where I was coming from. Having a job, I have to look at healthcare like it is a privilege.”
The pageant winner’s initial response came near the end of the competition, when McCullough and four other contestants faced the question-and-answer portion of the show. She was asked whether “affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege.”
“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” McCullough responded to Julianne Hough at the time. “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 addition to the health care social media firestorm, viewers also reacted to McCullough’s response when asked if she considered herself a feminist.
“So as a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word ‘feminism’ to ‘equalism,’ ” McCullough, who started an outreach program called Science Exploration for Kids, said on Sunday. “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.”
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McCullough was named the winner over first runner-up Miss New Jersey, Chhavi Verg, and second runner-up Miss Minnesota, Meridith Gould.
Her win marked back-to-back victories for the District of Columbia after Deshauna Barber took home the crown in 2016.