Miss USA Winner Stirs Controversy With Answers on Health Care, Feminism

Miss D.C. said health care is a "privilege" and prefers the term "equalism" to "feminism."

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.

By Liberty McArtor Published on May 15, 2017

Kára McCullough was crowned Miss USA Sunday night. But before being pronounced winner, Miss District of Columbia sparked a social media controversy with two of her answers during the Q&A round.

Host Julianne Hough asked McCullough, 25, about health care. 

“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,” the scientist responded. McCullough works at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She continued:

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 for all the American citizens worldwide.

McCullough’s response drew cheers from the audience, but criticism on Twitter. 



The Washington Post noted another of McCullough’s answers that drew ire. Host Terrence Jenkins asked McCullough, “What do you consider feminism to be, and do you consider yourself a feminist?”

McCullough said she preferred to “transpose the word feminism to equalism.” She added that she believes men and women are equal “when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.” 

McCullough said she has witnessed the “impact” of leadership from women in offices and in medical science.

“As Miss USA, I would hope to promote that kind of leadership responsibility globally to so many women worldwide.”

Disappointment quickly followed on Twitter.

Other Twitter users praised McCullough for her responses to both questions.


The Post reported that McCullough helps teach children in her community about science.

“My plan is to inspire and encourage so many children and women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” she said. The Post also noted that producers called her “one of the most intelligent contestants in recent memory.”

McCullough was preceded in her Miss USA title by Deshauna Barber, a U.S. Army Reserve captain. McCullough is the second consecutive representative from Washington, D.C. to win the pageant. Miss USA 2017 first runner-up was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg.

Watch McCullough’s full responses to the health care and feminism questions below.

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