Miss District of Columbia Kára McCullough was crowned Miss USA 2017 during Sunday night’s 2017 Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.
Miss USA 2016 (and former Miss D.C.) Deshauna Barber awarded the crown to McCullough, a 25-year-old scientist who works at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She was born in Italy and raised in Virginia Beach, the Washington Post reports.
McCullough beat out runner-up, Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg, and the third-place finisher, Miss Minnesota, Meridith Gould.
Miss USA’s Q&A portion required contestants to offer their opinions on certain hot topics, and Miss D.C’s responses proved controversial.
McCullough was called out on social media for her response to the question: “Do you think affordable health-care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege and why?”
“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” McCullough answered. “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.”
She was also asked, “What do you consider feminism to be, and do you consider yourself a feminist?”
McCullough responded, “I’d like to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism. 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 gonna say, though, is women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”
“And I say firsthand: I have witnessed the impact that women have in leadership in the medical sciences, as well as just in the office environment,” she added. “So as Miss USA, I would hope to promote that type of leadership responsibility globally to so many women worldwide.”
Despite backlash over these comments, the D.C. area is celebrating a Miss USA win two years in a row.
h/t Washington Post
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