Healthcare 'a privilege' - Miss USA

An African-American radiochemist has taken the tiara at this year's Miss USA competition - but Kára McCullough divided the nation with her controversial views on healthcare and feminism in the process.

McCullough's responses sparked a fierce debate between viewers on Twitter - with most of the discourse coming after her comments on healthcare, which she deemed a privilege rather than a right.

"I'm definitely going to say it's a privilege," McCullough responded.

"As a government employee, I am granted healthcare, and I see first-hand that for one to have healthcare, you need to have jobs.

"So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment where we're given the opportunities to have healthcare as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide."

A number of people, particularly supporters of President Obama, took issue with that comment - but Republicans loved it, and the remarks were shared widely on conservative US news sites.

But it wasn't just her views on healthcare that drew controversy - it was that she refused to label herself a feminist, despite essentially agreeing with what the formal definition of a feminist is.

"As a woman scientist in the government, I'd like to transpose the word 'feminism' to 'equalism'," McCullough said.

"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, is women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace."

And while some responses were politically polarising, others contained messages that united people and are believed to have clinched her the Miss USA title - particularly her motivational refrain on women in the workplace.

"I say first-hand: I have witnessed the impact that women have in leadership in the medical sciences, as well as just in the office environment," she said.

"So as Miss USA, I would hope to promote that type of leadership responsibility globally to so many women worldwide."

McCullough, who was raised in Italy, South Korea, Japan and Hawaii before settling in Washington DC, was widely praised at this year's Miss USA pageant for competing with her natural hair.