Reigning Miss USA champion Cheslie Kryst told an interviewer that she’s “not sure” if she would have participated in the pageant if Donald Trump still owned it, Yahoo! News reports.
Speaking to human rights activist Zainab Salbi for her show — Through Her Eyes, which explores issues through a female perspective — the North Carolina attorney was at something of a loss for words when asked about Donald Trump’s former ownership of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants. Specifically, when she was asked if she would have participated in the pageant if Donald Trump still owned it, all Kryst could say was, “I’m not sure.”
Kryst and Trump likely don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. Kryst describes herself as a feminist, while Trump has previously rejected the label. Further, Trump’s two Supreme Court appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, are both conservatives who critics suggest may be instrumental in overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states.
Trump’s own history with owning the two pageants is, itself, riddled with accusations of impropriety. For example, as The Independent reported in 2016, Trump admitted to Howard Stern’s radio show that he would walk in — unannounced and uninvited — to the dressing rooms at those pageants, so that he could “inspect beautiful women.” Some of the contestants in those dressing rooms could potentially have been teenage girls.
Trump sold his interests in both pageants in 2015, not long after he announced his presidential candidacy.
The pageants themselves, even without Trump’s ownership, have dealt with accusations of sexism. Beyond the overall accusation that beauty pageants objectify women, there’s also the fact that — though the Miss Universe pageant got rid of the controversial swimsuit competition — the Miss Teen USA pageant has kept it.
Still, Kryst defends the girls and women who would participate in those pageants, and that’s because, as a self-described feminist, she respects their choices. “Today’s woman should have the option to do anything she wants,” she said. “If that means being a stay-at-home mom, do that. If that means wearing your skirt, wear it. But you should have the opportunity to have that choice and to make that choice regardless of what anybody else thinks.”
According to CNN, in addition to her Miss USA duties, Kryst has a legal practice, doing pro bono work for incarcerated individuals in North Carolina.
Through Her Eyes airs every Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on The Roku Channel.