And the winner of the Miss USA 2019 pageant is Miss North Carolina Cheslie Kryst. The beauty queen beat 50 other contestants to capture the coveted title at the 68th annual competition, which aired live on Fox from the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada on Wednesday.
The attorney likely sealed the deal for the judges with her fitting description of the millennials. “I would say that my generation is innovative. I’m standing here in Nevada, in the state that has the first majority female legislature in this entire country. Mine is the first generation to have that forward-looking mind-set that has inclusivity, diversity, and strength and empowered women,” the 28-year-old confidently stated. “I’m looking forward to continued progress with my generation.”
Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers, a former Miss Nebraska USA, crowned her successor after the contestants took part in swimsuit and evening gown contests, with the five remaining women answering a tough political question onstage.
The first runner-up was Miss New Mexico Alejandra Gonzalez, followed by Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne.
Nick Lachey and wife Vanessa Lachey hosted the show for the second consecutive year, while Carson Kressley and Lu Sierra returned as commentators. Nick also performed during the evening gown competition, as did T-Pain.
The winner of the Miss USA 2019 pageant is set to represent the United States at the Miss Universe 2019 competition later this year.
Kryst said she didn’t feel nervous as she advanced through the elimination rounds.
“I just kept hearing my name get called,” she said. As she waited for the winner to be announced, “All I could think was, ‘This is really cool.’ ”
Kryst earned a law degree and an MBA at Wake Forest University before becoming a civil litigation attorney who does pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates. In a videotaped message played during the two-hour event at a hotel-casino, she told a story of when a judge at a legal competition told her to wear a skirt instead of pants because judges prefer skirts.
“Glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants,” Kryst said.
She told reporters afterward she’ll never forget being in law school at Wake Forest participating in a moot court competition in Louisiana with a panel of judges who provided very little feedback to here and her partner.
“We stood there for 30 minutes after practicing for months and all you said was wear a skirt next time?” she said. “It was very frustrating. Don’t tell females to wear different clothes while you give the men substantive feedback on their legal arguments.”
She said her interest in pageants began when she was 10 years old, watching her mother ride a horse-drawn carriage in a parade when she was named Mrs. North Carolina in 2002.
“It was a time in my life when I didn’t’ know who I was and wasn’t confident in myself. I was that little weird kid who had a unibrow and didn’t have any friends. My hair was always pulled back. I thought I want to be just like her,” she said.
Kryst went on to compete in pageants in high school.
“I can’t say pageants make you beautiful. I think they make your more confident in the person that you are,” she said.
“I’m still that same weird kid. I still like reading books. And at the end of the day, I like to sit by myself in my house and just watch movies. But I think pageants taught me all that, and my mom was really the one who introduced me to that and drew me to pageantry.”