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Who Is Haley Kalil?

She’s pretty smart. Haley Kalil is a trained medical biologist and chemist from suburban Minnesota. She is also a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model, “and if that shocks you,” says Haley, “you’d better get used to it, because the hottest girls are always the smartest.”

Kalil should know. The 28-year-old was a 4.0 student at St. Cloud University, studying biology and chemistry; she also found time to win the Miss Minnesota pageant in 2014 and make the Top 20 spots at Miss USA. Now she runs The Nerd Herd, an organization that mentors young women as they learn STEM skills like computer coding, medical science, and engineering. “If you want to join us, well, you have to be born a nerd!” says Kalil. “Be a geek. Love science; love math; love learning; and have an open mind to learn even more.”

Haley Kalil photographed by James Macari in Hollywood, Fla. Swimsuit by Agent Provocateur. Necklaces by 8 Other Reasons, BaubleBar and Uncommon James.

Haley Kalil says, "Confidence is everything."

Haley Kalil's Secret to Winning in Life? Confidence.

Which might include a crash course in card sharks—at least if you stick with Haley. “Because the Sports Illustrated Swim events are happening at the Hard Rock Casino, I’m headed to a blackjack tournament right now!” she says. “And I have to tell you, I am ready to kick some booty. The thing about being a science nerd like me is, I’ve trained my brain to analyze things mathematically—and you’re damn straight that includes Blackjack games. I know when to hit and when to stay because I know about probability and statistics—I can look at the cards already on the table and say, ‘What’s the likelihood, scientifically, that I’ll hit 21?’ And because of that,” she grins, “I will kick all these men’s butts.”

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But Kalil has some advice for “winning Blackjack and life” even if you’re not a secret genius. “Confidence is everything,” she admits. “If you walk into a challenge like you already own it, you’re gonna destroy whatever is in your way. There are psychological studies that prove that,” she says, “but it’s also something I’ve experienced all my life. If I tell myself, ‘Haley, you can do this,’ then I will be a million times more likely to get it done.”

Haley Kalil attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit celebration of the launch of the 2021 Issue on July 24, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida.

Haley Kalil attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit celebration of the launch of the 2021 Issue on July 24, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida.

“The Smartest Move You Can Ever Make Is to Be Kind”

And what’s the smartest thing Kalil has ever done? “I never thought being a jerk was okay,” she says. “To me, the smartest move you can ever make is to be kind. You can win a pageant or a Blackjack tournament or a modeling search or a scholarship—anything, really—but you can do it while respecting and appreciating everyone else trying to win the same thing. That’s how you really win it all. If you’re not being kind,” she says, “that’s a very stupid move.”

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