A new Miss USA has been crowned.
But not without the sort of controversy that often accompanies beauty pageants of this nature.
First, however, the facts from Sunday night:
Kára McCullough earned the honor of Miss USA 2017 by defeating 50 other women from across the country, impressing judges with her beauty, talents and intelligence.
A scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, McCullough held off strong challenges from runner-up Meredith Gould (Miss Minnesota) and Chhavi Verg (Miss New Jersey).
McCullough, meanwhile, represented the District of Columbia.
Dancing With the Stars’ veteran Julianne Hough and Terrence J hosted the competition, which aired live from the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip and which featured performances from Pitbull and country star Brett Eldredge.
Ashley Graham worked backstage as a co-host, while Halima Aden, Carson Kressley, Brooke Lee, Nancy Lublin, Jeannie Mai and Janet Mock chose the winners.
Now, on to the remarks that turned McCullough into a trending topic on Twitter…
With Congress having recently voted to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that would take away health care from millions of Americans, the contestants were asked for their thoughts on this polarizing political subject.
And the eventual winner McCullough sent some heads shaking on Sunday night when she said affordable health care in America is a “privilege” instead of a “right.
“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” McCullough explained during the question-and-answer segment, expounding as follows:
“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, so therefore we need to continue to cultivate this environment so that we’re given the opportunities to have health care as well as jobs for all Americans worldwide.”
In response to this point of view, Twitter users slammed McCullough, saying they hoped she didn’t take home the crown.
“Miss DC was my fav but … not after that answer,” wrote Twitter user Charlsley Carey. “Everyone has a right to health care.”
Added Kathy Lovett: “Well I guess poor people don’t deserve health care because the new Miss USA said it was a privilege.”
But McCullough did have her defenders, and we’re not just talking about the judges who awarded her the grand prize later in the evening.
“Miss USA is beautiful inside and out,” tweeted Politixgal. “Healthcare IS NOT a right. It costs money & someone has to pay. You shd be paying for your own.”
This, of course, is far from the first time that a beauty pageant contestant created a firestorm with politically-charged comments.
Remember the reaction after Carrie Prejean expressed her stance on gay marriage back in 2009?
Clearly hoping to stir up social media, Miss USA organizers also asked the following question of this year’s contestants:
What do you consider feminism to be, and do you consider yourself a feminist?
“As a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism. I don’t really want to consider myself – try not to consider myself like this die-hard, 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…
“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.
“So as Miss USA, I would hope to promote that type of leadership responsibility globally to so many women worldwide.”
In a video shared on the Miss USA Twitter account after the competition, McCullough cried backstage as she said she was feeling “extremely overwhelmed with joy,” given that she had just entered the pageant for fun.
“I decided to take life as it comes, and if I could encourage anyone else in the world to do that, please – just take your time.
“Understand the process is so much more important to focus on than just looking toward the outcome.”