The Way Madison Cawthorn Met His Soon-To-Be Ex-Wife Is Raising Eyebrows

North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn rose to political prominence as a young and outspoken defender of former President Donald Trump when he was elected to the House in 2020. 

While Cawthorn sees his own win as completely legitimate, he sees President Joe Biden's win as illegitimate, despite all candidates being on the same ballot. 

As recently as November 2021, he was still claiming that the election one year prior was a sham. "If anybody tells you the 2020 election was not stolen, they are lying to you," he said (via The Washington Post).

Cawthorn was only 25 years old when he was elected to office. And — both before and during his campaign — he often told the story of how he became partially paralyzed and now lives in a wheelchair. 

In 2014, at the age of 17, he was in a car crash in which he was the passenger and a friend, Brad Ledford, was the driver. According to The Washington Post, Cawthorn claimed to have been left behind in the crash, while Ledford has said that's untrue. 

Now, another story from Cawthorn — about how he claims to have met his soon-to-be ex-wife — is raising eyebrows regarding its authenticity, but it also turns Cawthorn into even more of an enigma if it's true.

A trip to Russia led to Madison Cawthorn meeting his wife in Miami

In a recently surfaced 2020 video interview with the right-wing website the Daily Caller, Madison Cawthorn happily recounts how he met the woman who briefly became his wife, and it all has something to do with Russian casinos and a CrossFit competition that turned out to be fake.

For some reason, Cawthorn was vacationing in St. Petersburg, Russia, of all places, and he and a friend decided to blow $100 at a casino, although Business Insider points out that gambling in Russia is only allowed at a select few places that are hard to get into. 

That's where Cawthorn met an Army captain he calls Todd, whom he hit it off with and then met up with again while Cawthorn was in Miami. At that point, Todd suggested that he and Cawthorn attend a CrossFit competition, with Cawthorn only working on his upper body. 

That's where the story takes an even stranger turn as Cawthorn describes Todd as a man who would lead him to his (short-lived) destiny.

Madison Cawthorn attended a fake CrossFit competition and fell in love

When Madison Cawthorn met up with his Army captain friend Todd — whom he met when he somehow gained access to a Russian casino in St. Petersburg — Todd told the partially paralyzed Cawthorn just to do pull-ups at a CrossFit competition, which the North Carolina House member soon learned was fake but apparently didn't mind.

"[It] all was a sham. It was a fake CrossFit competition," Cawthorn told the Daily Caller. "He just wanted to put me in the same room with the girl who was eventually going to become my fiancée. And so, we did, and her and I hit it off, and it's been a magical relationship ever since."

That magical relationship didn't last long: Just before Christmas 2021, Cawthorn announced that he and Cristina Bayardelle Cawthorn were divorcing after just under a year of marriage. 

A tweeted statement from his spokesperson, Luke Ball, reads as follows: "When Cristina and I were engaged, I was not a member of Congress. I felt called to serve, and we both agreed that I should run. Our victory was unprecedented, but overnight our lives changed. That change has been both hectic and difficult. It's neither the pace nor the lifestyle we had planned for."