Where is Kellie Chauvin now? Derek Chauvin's ex-wife who was crowned Mrs Minnesota requested to change her name
All eyes are on Derek Chauvin. The stomach-churning video of George Floyd's death under the knee of the Minneapolis policeman comes back to haunt many minds along with words of the unarmed Black man who repeated, “I can't breathe...” Derek Chauvin's trial marks a new chapter in the history of Black Lives Matter and as witnesses present their side of the story, Chauvin awaits judgment.
Already been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, his life is in the public spectacle. Married for over ten years, Chauvin's wife Kellie Chauvin — who competed in a Mrs Minnesota beauty pageant in 2018 — announced she wanted to divorce him days after Floyd's brutal death. The 45-year-old was found guilty on all counts and handcuffed after Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill announced the verdict on April 20, 2021.
As the world watches how long will he be sentenced for, here's a look at where his beauty queen ex-wife is now.
Who is Kellie Chauvin?
A chance meeting brought Kellie Chauvin close to Derek. Born on October 21, 1974, she is a Hmong American former radiologist and beauty queen. When she was three, her family left Laos. In 1977, they fled to safety in Thailand and lived in a refugee camp.
Memories of those times still haunt Kellie when they left everything and carried just a few possessions on their backs. She once confessed that she stopped eating oatmeal because it was an echo of those dark days at the camp. Kellie wore a boy's jacket to keep herself warm as she had no winter wear.
One cold October in 1980 — three years after her family moved to the camp — the family finally shifted to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Much later, in 1984, she began her formal education in kindergarten. Her classmates were far more superior in their command over English. Talking about those tough times, she said, “They say ‘land of the free’... but I still didn’t feel like we were free. We didn’t know English. My parents didn’t want us leaving the house because they didn’t trust the world. You land into this brand-new world and you don’t know what to expect, and so we were always kept inside.”
Winning the beauty pageant
It's now no secret that Kellie competed for the Mrs Minnesota 2019 title and became the first Hmong woman to win that honor. In January 2018, Kellie's close friend Sophia Xiong-Yang convinced her to compete in USOA’s Mrs Minnesota 2018. “I just knew that for myself. I was better than what people made me out to be,” Kellie later said in an interview. “I know it took me a long time to realize that, but it’s never too late.”
Belonging to Hmong descent — an ethnic group native to Laos, Vietnam, and Southern China — Kellie has spoken up about how she was bullied for her looks and called ugly as a child. Later, she went on to volunteer as a translator at local hospitals to make her home a “safe haven” for Hmong women going through difficult times.
Who was Kellie Chauvin's first husband?
At 17, she exchanged vows with her first husband Kujay Xiong after an arranged marriage set up. She barely knew him. “As a Hmong woman, if you’re not married by 18 … then your parents think that nobody will marry you,” Kellie once said. Her first marriage didn't end well and she divorced her ex-husband after 10 years of abusive relationship.
Kellie has two children from her first marriage. After splitting from her ex-husband, she moved to Minnesota. The mom-of-two then decided to complete her education and earned her associate’s degree in radiology. She soon landed an internship in the emergency room of Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, which later blossomed into a full-time position, and she worked there for 13 years.
After resigning from the hospital, she worked as a realtor with RE/MAX Results.
How did Kellie meet Derek Chauvin?
While working at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, she locked eyes with Derek when he had brought someone for a health check-up before arrest. The meeting sparked romance and the pair soon fell in love. In 2010, the two got hitched. Kellie sketched out intimate details of their beautiful relationship in a 2018 newspaper profile after she was crowned Mrs Minnesota.
She told the St Paul Pioneer Press, “Under that uniform, he's just a softie. He's such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my [previous] divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them.”
The two then moved to Florida in 2011 and first bought a townhouse in Windermere for an estimated amount of about $200,000. In 2020, its market value increased to over $249,000. In 2017, the pair purchased another house in Oakdale, Minnesota for $260,000, which was later valued and sold for about $279,000.
What did Kellie Chauvin say about George Floyd's death?
The tragic George Floyd incident shattered their relationship. In a statement via her Minneapolis lawyer, Sekula Law Offices, she said she was “devastated” by Mr Floyd’s death and sent her “utmost sympathy” for his family, his loved ones, and everyone who were grieving this tragedy.
Soon after, she filed for the dissolution of her marriage to Derek. The statement continued, “While Ms Chauvin has no children from her current marriage, she respectfully requests that her children, her elder parents, and her extended family be given safety and privacy during this difficult time.” Her words drew much support and she was called compassionate and kind.
Why did Kellie divorce Derek?
On May 28, three days after Floyd's brutal death, Kellie Chauvin filed for divorce from Derek. She blamed the “irretrievable breakdown” of their relationship for divorce in legal court papers.
Moreover, she didn't seek any kind of financial compensation for the divorce. “[The] respondent is fully capable of supporting herself,” the filing stated. Both Kellie and her estranged husband waived their rights to “temporary or permanent spousal maintenance,” from each other, according to the court papers.
Kellie also mentioned that she just wants to move on with her life independently and is also getting her last name changed. Previously known as Kellie May Thao and Kellie May Xiong, she didn't say what name she was going to use but the petition read: “She is seeking a name change solely because of this marriage dissolution.” The divorce papers also read: Even though Kellie Chauvin “is currently unemployed,” she is “self-supporting” and “is not in need of spousal maintenance.”