Kára McCullough, a 25-year-old scientist representing the District of Columbia, won the Miss USA pageant on Sunday, May 14 in Las Vegas. It's the second consecutive year that a contestant from the nation's capital won the annual competition. (Reuters)

After one of the more controversial Q&A segments in beauty-pageant history, newly crowned Miss USA Kára McCullough wants to clarify her remarks about health care.

During the pageant Sunday, McCullough was asked, “Do you think affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege, and why?” McCullough, a 25-year-old scientist who works at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, quickly set social media ablaze with her response: “I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege. 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 to all the American citizens worldwide.”

On Tuesday, McCullough made the media rounds, starting with “Good Morning America.” Co-anchor Michael Strahan noted that her comments — that health care is a privilege, not a right — “put a little heat” on her online. “Were you surprised by this reaction?” he asked.

“Not at all,” McCullough said. “I believe that’s what America is based on — like, having opinions and views.”

She continued: “But I would like to just take this moment to truly just clarify. Because I am a woman, I’m going to own what I said. I am privileged to have health care and I do believe that it should be a right, and I hope and pray moving forward that health care is a right for all worldwide.”

Strahan sympathized about the time constraints given to pageant contestants who have to discuss extremely complicated topics in 30 seconds on live television. “You’re put on the spot to give an answer to that … would you change anything that you said?” he asked.

“I would love to clarify,” she said again. “I am privileged to have health care. I want people to see where I was coming from. Having a job, I have to look at health care like it is a privilege.”

Strahan also noted that McCullough’s answer to a question about feminism (“As a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism.”) also “created a little firestorm” online. “You used the term equalism instead of feminism — and what do you mean by that?” he asked.

“Where I work at with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, equalism is more of a term of understanding that no matter your gender, you’re still given the same accolades on your work,” she explained. “So I believe the person does a good job, they should be, you know, credited for that in a sense.”

“But I don’t want anyone to look at that as if I’m not about women’s rights. Because I am,” McCullough continued. “We deserve a lot when it comes to opportunity in the workplace as well as just, like, leadership positions. And I’ve seen and witnessed firsthand the impact women have.”

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