Crystal Lee

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Crystal Lee
Crystal Lee.jpg
Miss California's Outstanding Teen 2008
Nationality American
Education Stanford University
Title Miss America 2014 First Runner-Up
Miss California 2013[1]
Miss Silicon Valley 2013
Miss South Counties 2012
Miss San Francisco 2011
Miss Chinatown USA 2010
Miss California's Outstanding Teen 2008[2][3]
Awards $5,000 STEM Scholarship
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Crystal Lee is a Co-Founder of the Silicon Valley startup, LifeSite.[4] Lee was the first runner-up in the Miss America 2014 pageant, Miss California 2013, Miss Chinatown USA 2010, and Miss California's Outstanding Teen 2008.


Lee was born in San Francisco, California to an American-born Chinese father and Taiwanese mother.[5] Lee graduated from Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.[2] She later received her B.A. in Human Biology and M.A. in Communication from Stanford University in 2013.[6]

Miss America 2014

Crystal Lee, Miss Chinatown USA 2010

She was first runner-up in the Miss America 2014 pageant where her platform was "Women in STEM."[6] She was also the recipient of the STEM scholarship and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.[7][8] In the final moments of the Miss America pageant, Lee and Miss New York Nina Davuluri were the last contestants left on the stage. They were approached by co-host Lara Spencer who asked how they were feeling at that moment. Davuluri stated that she and Lee were "both so proud. We’re making history right here, standing here as Asian-Americans.”[9][10] In a later interview with NPR's Michel Martin, Davulri described the moment as a, "very surreal, out-of-body experience, being there in the final two. I was holding hands with Miss California, Crystal Lee, and we were both standing there at such a historic moment - two Asian-Americans who were going to take the title and to be a new symbol of hope and encouragement." [11]

When Lee was asked to discuss the final moments in a later interview she stated that she:

was focused on the announcement of results and didn’t think about us being Asian. We’ve had a Chinese-American in the Top 2 before, but perhaps not an Indian-American, which may have been why Nina said something about it. I’ve always thought of myself to be just as American as I am Asian. Our country has always been composed of immigrant backgrounds- whether or not your appearance reflects it. The order in which one’s forefathers arrived doesn’t make their descendants more or less American. But stepping out of the competition, I now realize what a huge step this is for all Asian Americans. I can’t wait for the day we have a Chinese-American Miss America. I hope she’s bilingual, too!.[5]

There was a backlash of xenophobic and racist comments in social media against winner Nina Davuluri shortly after she was crowned Miss America 2014[12][13] related to the proximity of the event date to the nine-eleven anniversary and to anti-Indian sentiment.[14] News agencies cited tweets that questioned why she was chosen over Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, misidentified her as Muslim or Arab, and associated her with terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.[13][14][15] Lee responded to this backlash in an NBC Bay Area phone interview by stating that "people should be ashamed of themselves […] But I think it's also pretty progressive that those ignorant people are being shamed in the media."[2] In another interview, Lee stated: "It’s sad that so many Americans don’t know how much they don’t know. It shows how far we have yet to go as a society. I’m glad the media publicly called out the perpetrators for their ignorance. It reinforces our commitment to acceptance and understanding."[5]


Video clips

  • Vote for Miss California 2013 Crystal Lee - Miss America Organization
  • Miss America's runner-up is Miss Silicon Valley, a Stanford grad. Contra Costa Times, September 16, 2013.
  • Groundbreaking Miss America Winner Miss New York Takes Home Pageant Crown - ABC News, September 16, 2013


  1. ^ "Miss California History". Miss California. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Fernandez, Lisa (September 16, 2013). "Crystal Lee, Miss America Runner-Up, a Stanford Grad, Techie". NBC].
  3. ^ "Crystal Lee '13 is first runner-up in Miss America 2014". Stanford. September 23, 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  4. ^ How a Pair of Beauty Queens Helped Launch an Ultra-Secure Digital Safe
  5. ^ a b c "An Exclusive Interview: Miss California 2013, Crystal Lee". Michael Jeong. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  6. ^ a b "Miss California Bio". Miss America. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  7. ^ Haskell, Sam (September 13, 2013). "Miss America 2014: Looking for a Few Good STEMs". Huff Post.
  8. ^ Stern, Marlow (September 10, 2013). "Miss Alabama Chandler Champion Receives Gold Medal for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Program".
  9. ^ Stern, Marlow (September 16, 2013). "Nina Davuluri Crowned Miss America: The First Miss America of Indian Descent". Daily Beast.
  10. ^ "Groundbreaking Miss America Winner Miss New York Takes Home Pageant Crown." ABC News, September 16, 2013
  11. ^ Martin, Michael (September 18, 2013). "Is Nina Davuluri American Enough to be Miss America? (NPR Interview)". NPR. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  12. ^ "Is Bollywood the New Zumba?". ELLE. September 26, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  13. ^ a b ALEXANDER ABAD-SANTOS (September 16, 2013). "The First Indian-American Miss America Has Racists Very, Very Confused". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  14. ^ a b Ryan Broderick (September 16, 2013). "A Lot Of People Are Very Upset That An Indian-American Woman Won The Miss America Pageant". BuzzFeed. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  15. ^ Stuart, Tessa (September 16, 2013). "Fox Host Todd Starnes Outraged That Indian-American Nina Davuluri Won Miss America". The Village Voice. Retrieved September 30, 2013.

External links

  • Official website
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Leah Cecil
Miss California
Succeeded by
Marina Inserra
Retrieved from ""
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