Kára McCullough Wasn't the First to Raise More Questions With Her Answer: Miss USA's History of Controversial Q&As

Nowadays, it's not a beauty pageant without a touch of controversy.

By Samantha Schnurr May 16, 2017 8:39 PMTags

Nowadays, it's not a beauty pageant without a touch of controversy. 

With 65 years of the annual Miss USA pageant, there's bound to be a few public firestorms over what the contestants do, wear, or in most cases, say. This year's competition was no different as the newly crowned Miss USA 2017 Kára McCullough walked into her first few days with the crown putting out the flames ignited by her own Q&A portion. 

On Sunday night, the 25-year-old Washington, D.C. native was asked about her stances on health care and feminism. "I'm definitely going to say it's a privilege," she said of health care. "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 opportunity to have health care as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide."


Miss USA 2017 Finalists
Courtesy Patrick Prather

In regard to feminism, she suggested it be replaced by the term, "Equalism." "I don't want to consider myself like this die-hard, you know, like, 'I don't really care about men,'" she said. "One thing I'll say, women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace."

In a later interview with Good Morning America's Michael Strahan, the newly crowned Miss USA revisited her comments, clarifying that she is privileged to benefit from health care and believes everyone should have the right to such care. As for her stance on feminism, she did not want to be mistaken: "I don't want anyone to look at [it] as if I'm not all about women's rights because I am."

She's not the first contestant who has had to defend, clarify or simply face the backlash of her answer. Roll the tape: 

Nadia Mejia

In 2016, the former Miss California USA was asked how to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Her answer? "When it comes to social and economic equality, I think that the rich and the poor need to stop being so segregated. I think there is a middle class. I think that the rich need to...pause...I think the rich need to be able to be giving and the poor need to work hard and I think the middle class needs to work hard and find an in-between." She later took to Instagram with an improvised song to poke fun at the flub. 

Caitlin Upton

In 2007, the former Miss South Carolina Teen USA became a viral sensation after being asked the following question: "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?" She responded, "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh, people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future. For our children." Upton later appeared on Today to clarify her answer, explaining that there should be more of an emphasis on geography in education to fix the statistic. 

Marissa Powell

Six years later, then-Miss Utah was tasked with addressing the gender wage gap during her 2013 pageant. "A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men," judge NeNe Leakes asked. "What does this say about society?" "I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to..." she began before taking a pause. "Figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem. I think especially the men are seen as the leaders of this, so we need to figure out how to create education better so we can solve this problem." The answer garnered a mass public reaction online and in the media the following day. 

Alicia-Monique Blanco

Questions regarding universal health care have popped up before during the Miss USA pageant, but former Miss Arizona USA didn't exactly give the answer the people were looking for when it was her turn to speak on the issue. After Blanco was asked if she thought universal health care should be granted as a benefit of citizenship, she pivoted to the topic of integrity. "I think this is an issue of integrity regardless of which end of the political spectrum that I stand on. I was raised in a family to know right from wrong and politics, whether or not you fall in the middle, the left or the right, it's an issue of integrity, no matter what your opinion is, and I say that with the utmost conviction."

Carrie Prejean

In 2009, the former Miss California USA was asked whether she thought every state should follow Vermont, which at the time had become the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. "Well I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I think I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman," she answered. The response was met with public debate, fanned on both sides of the political spectrum by fellow contestants, Perez Hilton, Donald Trump, various pundits and correspondents. 

What are your thoughts on McCullough's responses? Sound off in the comments!