Somehow, someway Cawthorn and his group did make it to Russia by boat, specifically St. Petersburg. According to the trip booking and itinerary site RometoRio, there’s a ferry that runs from Stockholm to St. Petersburg that costs around $120. The trip itself lasts about four and a half hours. Regardless of how Cawthorn and friends made it to St. Petersburg, their sights were set on going to a casino. The group decided to take $100 per person and gamble it away at a casino. That’s where Cawthorn says he met Todd, an Army captain from Miami who became his friend and eventually introduced Cawthorn to Bayardelle.
“Later, I was down in Miami for work and he texted me and said, ‘Hey, would you like to come compete in a CrossFit competition?’ And so I laughed and said, ‘Well, Todd, I’m in a wheelchair. I obviously can’t do CrossFit.’ And he said, ‘Well, just do the pull-up section.’ And I was like, ‘OK, sounds good.’ And so I show up, but anyways it all was a sham. It was a fake CrossFit competition and he just wanted to put me in the same room with the girl who was eventually gonna become my fiancée,” Cawthorn said. “And so we did and her and I hit it off and it’s been a magical relationship ever since.”
A rudimentary search of Bayardelle’s friends on various social media platforms includes a few folks named Todd but none of them appear to have enlisted in the Army. Likewise, Cawthorn’s @CawthornForNC campaign account appears not to show him following anyone named Todd who would match that description. Meeting through CrossFit, even as a ruse, certainly tracks with Bayardelle’s aspirations, though. She’s a competitive CrossFitter and partners with a slew of athletic apparel brands, like Born Primitive.
The timing on Cawthorn’s divorce is pretty remarkable as well. Though Cawthorn issued a statement citing “irreconcilable differences” that he blamed on transitioning from being a civilian into being a sitting lawmaker, the news comes shortly after Cawthorn went on a bizarre tirade slamming Roe vs. Wade in which he called women “earthen vessels,” which is a very artisanal way of saying “baby-making machines.” Perhaps Bayardelle was no longer feeling a partner who wants to reduce her and all women into wombs and nothing more.
As if the story of how Cawthorn and Bayardelle met wasn’t suspect enough, the circumstances surrounding the Cawthorns tying the knot is equally strange. The couple legally wed last December, according to an article in BlueRidgeNow. Marrying in December instead of waiting supposedly made it easier for Cawthorn to assume his duties as a congressman with his wife by his side. According to a press secretary for Cawthorn, the marriage allowed the two to “streamline the paperwork process needed for him to take office in D.C. with her as his spouse.”
They later held what Cawthorn’s press secretary described as a “religious ceremony” on April 3rd of this year. The date coincides with the anniversary of the car crash that left Cawthorn paralyzed. Cawthorn told People Magazine that Bayardelle chose that date so that the two would have something positive to celebrate instead of looking back to the 2014 accident. “It kind of changes that history in my mind,” Cawthorn said, “to where it’s not my saddest day; it’s my favorite day.”