Miss USA

Miss USA 2017 Kára McCullough Clarifies Her Controversial Stances on Feminism and Health Care

On the heels of her Miss USA win, Kára McCullough is spending her first days with the crown putting out the flames on a controversy her words ignited.

During the Q&A portion of the annual beauty pageant, the Washington, D.C. winner was asked whether she considered affordable health care for all United States citizens a right or a privilege.

“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” she answered Sunday night. “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.”

She also came under fire for her take on feminism, which she would like to exchange for the term, “Equalism.” “I don’t want to consider myself like this die-hard, you know, like, ‘I don’t really care about men,'” she said. “One thing I’ll say, women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”

Kára McCullough, Miss USA 2017, Good Morning America
Kára McCullough,…

Miss USA clarifies: Healthcare ‘should be a right’

Miss USA clarifies: Healthcare 'should be a right'

The newly crowned Miss USA on Tuesday sought to explain that she thinks she is “privileged” to have healthcare, but that it should be a right.

“I would like to just take this moment to truly just clarify because I am a woman — I’m going to own what I said. I am privileged to have healthcare,” Kara McCullough said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“And I do believe that it should be a right and I hope and pray moving forward that healthcare is a right for all worldwide.”

McCullough ignited a firestorm on Twitter after her…

DC Does it Again! Miss USA 2017 Is Kara McCullough, Miss District of Columbia

A new Miss USA has been crowned!

Kara McCullough, 25, from the District of Columbia, took home the coveted title on Sunday night during the live competition in Las Vegas.

McCullough was named the winner over first runner-up Miss New Jersey, Chhavi Verg, and second runner-up Miss Minnesota, Meridith Gould.

McCullough is a nuclear scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Her win gives the District of Columbia back-to-back victories in the competition, after Deshauna Barber took home the crown last year.

Barber came out to crown McCullough, and gave a tribute to her mom during the Mother’s Day broadcast, who passed away from lung cancer three months into her reign as Miss USA. Barber wore her hair in its natural state in honor of her mom.

During the questions portion of the competition, McCullough was asked if affordable healthcare is a right or a privilege. She responded that healthcare should only go to…

Miss District of Columbia crowned as Miss USA

Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The District of Columbia has won back-to-back Miss USA titles.

Kara McCullough, a 25-year-old scientist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip. She will go on to compete on the Miss Universe contest.

Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough, center, reacts with fellow contestants after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough, center, reacts with fellow contestants after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

“I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity,” she said after the event. “I just want to encourage so many women nationwide to find their passion in any subject possible and understand that nothing is difficult if you really, truly put the work in for it.”

Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough, center, reacts with fellow contestants after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough, center, reacts with fellow contestants after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Fifty-one women representing each state and the nation’s capital participated in the decades-old competition. The runner-up of the night was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg, a marketing and Spanish student at Rutgers University, while the second runner-up was Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould, who is studying apparel retail merchandising at the University of Minnesota.

Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts after she was crowned the new Miss USA during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

McCullough was born in Naples, Italy, and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She said she wants to inspire children to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Miss District of Columbia USA and new Miss USA Kara McCullough, right, embraces first runner up Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA and new Miss USA Kara McCullough, right, embraces first runner up Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.

Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould reacts after she won second runner up during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould reacts after she won second runner up during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The top five finalists where asked different questions that touched on the pros and cons of social media, women’s rights and issues affecting teenagers. McCullough was asked whether she thinks that affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege. McCullough said it is a privilege.

Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts as she is crowned the new Miss USA by former Miss USA Deshauna Barber during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts as she is crowned the new Miss USA by former Miss USA Deshauna Barber during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

“As a government employee, I’m granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs.”

Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts as she is crowned the new Miss USA by former Miss USA Deshauna Barber during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts as she is crowned the new Miss USA by former Miss USA Deshauna Barber during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

McCullough’s office at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission focuses on emergency preparedness. She said she will be discussing with her work supervisor whether she will take a leave of absence.

Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts as she is crowned the new Miss USA by former Miss USA Deshauna Barber during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Miss District of Columbia USA Kara McCullough reacts as she is crowned the new Miss USA by former Miss USA Deshauna Barber during the Miss USA contest Sunday, May 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Later in the competition, McCullough, Verg and Gould were asked to explain what they consider feminism…

5 immigrant women vie for Miss USA pageant title

In this May 11, 2017, photo, Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg, right, competes during a preliminary competition for Miss USA in Las Vegas. Very emigrated from India with her parents. Five of the contestants vying for the Miss USA title this year were born in other countries and now U.S. citizens. (John Locher/Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — Five of the contestants vying for the Miss USA title have a message to immigrant girls and women watching the pageant this weekend: Set goals, work hard and don’t stay in the shadows.

The contestants know what they are talking about as they were all born in other countries and immigrated to the U.S. at young ages as their families pursued their versions of the American Dream. The women are now all U.S. citizens.

“I want them to see that anything is possible if you work hard,” said Linnette De Los Santos, who immigrated with her family from the Dominican Republic when she was 5 years old. “As Miss USA, I would love to be able to be that inspiration for our immigrant community. If I would have stopped following my dreams and working hard towards what I wanted, I wouldn’t be sitting here as Miss Florida USA or in law school ready to become an immigration attorney.”

The competition airs Sunday from Las Vegas.

De Los Santos, Miss North Dakota Raquel Wellentin, Miss Hawaii Julie Kuo, Miss Connecticut Olga Litvinenko and Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg spoke to The Associated Press about the opportunities and challenges they’ve faced as immigrants.

Their remarks stand in stark contrast to the scandal that enveloped the pageant in 2015, when part owner and now President Donald Trump offended…