Kara McCullough of D.C. was crowned as Miss USA in Las Vegas Sunday night, marking the second year in a row that the winner of the pageant has come from the nation’s capital.
McCullough, a 25-year-old scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, succeeds D.C.’s Deshauna Barber, who last year became the first-ever military member to win the esteemed pageant.
“I love science,” McCullough said after her win. “I look at this as a great opportunity to — get to experience worldwide culture, as well as just having the opportunity to be impacted by so many children, hopefully in the math and sciences.”
The Italian-born McCullough will now go on to represent the U.S. in the Miss Universe contest.
Her win was not without controversy, however. She rankled some when asked during the competition whether health care is a right or a privilege, answering, “I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege.”
“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,” she said. “We need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunity to have healthcare as well as jobs to all American citizens worldwide.”
Her response drew criticism on social media from left-leaning users, who also took her to task for seemingly characterizing feminists as male-bashers.