Miss USA's thoughts on feminism, health care and more spark controversy

"To have health care, you need to have jobs," she said.

ByABC News
May 15, 2017, 12:05 PM

— -- Last night, Kara McCullough, a 25-year-old chemist, took home the Miss USA title for the District of Columbia. But in the run-up to her victory in the pageant, she made some comments on the air that sparked a debate online.

Here's what to know about McCullough, including her statements about health care and feminism that have drawn some heat.

1 - 'We regulate nuclear power plants.'

Miss USA was speaking of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission where she works as a chemist when she said in her introductory video online, "We regulate nuclear power plants."

Her specialization is radiochemisty.

McCullough also has an outreach program called "Science Exploration for Kids," through which she tries to get youth in her area as interested in math and science as she is.

"Seeing children having so much fun in science really gets my heart going," she says.

2 - Worldly experience

McCullough was born in Naples, Italy, but also lived in Japan, South Korea and Hawaii before she made Washington, D.C., her home. Given all the places she's lived, it may come as no surprise that she is the daughter of a now-retired U.S. Navy officer.

Before competing in the Miss USA pageant, McCullough graduated from South Carolina State University.

3 - Her thoughts on health care

When asked during the pageant if affordable health care is a right for all Americans, McCullough replied to host Julianne Hough, "I'm definitely going to say it's a privilege."

"As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see firsthand that to have health care, you need to have jobs," she added. "We need to continue to cultivate this environment that we're given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs."

4 - She doesn't consider herself a feminist

McCullough said during the pageant that she prefers the term "equalism" to "feminism."

“I try not to consider myself, like, this diehard, ‘I don’t really care about men’” type of woman, she explained.

"Women -- we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace," she added.

5 - She's a sports fan

In Washington, D.C., McCullough likes to take in a ball game from time to time.

"Last night I supported our local Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals at the Nationals Park," she wrote last month on Instagram.

She also posted a video of her kicking off her heels to play some basketball.