Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst dead at 30

Cheslie Kryst

New York, NY – A woman whose body was found on a New York City street early Sunday was identified by police as lawyer Cheslie Kryst, 30, a former Miss USA who also worked as a correspondent for television’s “Extra.”

New York police said the body, which was found on West 42nd Street, appeared to have fallen from an elevated position and that Kryst’s death was most likely the result of suicide.

Her family said in a statement: “In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength.”

Kryst competed as Miss North Carolina USA when she won the Miss USA title in 2019. She was a top 10 finisher in the subsequent Miss Universe competition.

Although her fame came from her pageant achievements, she was also a lawyer who worked for a firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Kryst was born on April 28, 1991, in Jackson, Michigan, and went to high school in South Carolina before graduating cum laude from the University of South Carolina.

She earned a law degree and a master’s of business administration from Wake Forest University.

Kryst told the North Carolina Bar Association’s blog in 2019 that she was inspired to enter pageant competition by her mother, April Simpkins, who was Mrs. North Carolina in 2002.

“I remember watching her win and going to appearances with her during her reign,” Kryst said. “Her title provided her with a platform to advocate for issues that were important to her and people listened.”

It took Kryst five tries to win the North Carolina title before she went on to take Miss USA. She acknowledged her tenacity by citing a quote widely attributed to Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Her time at the Charlotte offices of the law firm Poyner Spruill LLP appeared to be fruitful, as it elevated her to the position of diversity adviser in 2020 after her pageant sabbatical in 2019.


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