A 25-year-old scientist representing the District of Columbia was crowned winner of the Miss USA pageant on Sunday, the second consecutive year that the contestant from the nation’s capital won the annual competition.
Kara McCullough, who holds a degree in chemistry and works at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, triumphed over 50 other contestants, including first runner-up Chhavi Verg, representing New Jersey, to claim victory in the contest which was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre in Las Vegas.
For her question as one of three finalists, McCullough was asked about healthcare rights, and replied that affordable healthcare was a privilege for people who held jobs. The response drew some stinging criticism on social media platforms such as Twitter, but also had its defenders.
Dang I wanted Miss D.C to win but I’m sorry affordable health care is not a privilege. Health care should be a human right! #MissUSA
— Kandacy Adams (@_KandKand) May 15, 2017
Gotta love that the new #MissUSA thinks healthcare is a privilege 🙃
— Keely Cunningham (@KEE_LYme_pie) May 15, 2017
DC just lost my vote. Healthcare shouldn’t be a privilege for only people with jobs.#MissUSA pic.twitter.com/QMlAR24EiC
— mollie (@mollie64438390) May 15, 2017
“Twitter is like a war zone,” posted one user, referring to opposing reactions to the winner’s remarks.
McCullough also took hits for saying she does not call herself a feminist, preferring “equalism,” before adding “Women, we are just as equal as men, especially in the workplace.”
In contract, New Jersey’s Verg received widespread praise for her answer on feminism.
“Feminism is striving for equality and I do consider myself a feminist. I think it’s a misconception when people believe that feminism is women being better than men. But it’s really not. It’s a fight for equality. And we need to realise that if we want a stable society, a better future for every single individual, we need to be equal. And that’s why I advocate for education for women.
“Women are still held back in places in the world. They still don’t have that right to their independence, that right to their equality, all because of education. And, once we do take that step, I believe that an equal world will be a better world,” said Ms Verg.
#MissUSA NEW JERSEY SLAYED THAT FEMINISM ANSWER YOU HAVE MY VOTE
— Maddie k. (@KrolowMaddie) May 15, 2017
Miss New Jersey #MissUSA pic.twitter.com/HNuTIzavvz
— Mic (@mic) May 15, 2017
McCullough will go on to compete as the U.S. representative at the annual Miss Universe pageant.