The District of Columbia has another consecutive Miss USA — and this one believes healthcare is a privilege and the term feminism should be transposed with “equalism.”
Twenty-five-year-old Miss D.C. Kara McCullough, a chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ascended to Miss USA on Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg was the runner-up, and Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould came in third place.
Naples-born McCullough dazzled judges Julianne Hough, Ashley Graham and Terrence Jenkins — and piqued social media interest — with her answers in the Q&A portion of the competition, which covered healthcare, social media, women’s rights and issues facing teenagers.
When asked if she thinks affordable healthcare is a right or a privilege for U.S. citizens, McCullough said it was a “definitely” a privilege.
“As a government employee, I am granted healthcare. And I see firsthand that for one to have healthcare, you need to have jobs,” she said. “So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunities to have healthcare as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide.”
The answer raised the ire of social media, as well as her denouncement of feminism.
— Miss USA (@MissUSA) May 15, 2017
“As a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism,” she said when asked what she thinks feminism is and if she considers herself a feminist. The audience loudly cheered her response, according to the Washington Post.
“I don’t really want to consider myself — try not to consider myself like this diehard, 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,” she continued. “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 also said that as Miss USA, she “would hope to promote that type of leadership responsibility globally.”
McCullough, one of five contestants who immigrated to the U.S. as youngsters and are now citizens, took the crown from Army officer Deshauna Barber, also from the District of Columbia.
Barber won the Miss USA title last year in the aftermath of host Steve Harvey’s infamous Miss Universe gaffe and the departure of former pageant owner Donald Trump after NBCUniversal and Univision ousted him for offending Latinos during his White House run.
McCullough will go on to compete on the Miss Universe pageant.