A Thai transgender businesswoman has acquired the Miss Universe pageant for $20 million.
Jakapong “Anne” Jakrajutatip, the CEO and biggest shareholder of JKN Global Group, sealed the deal with IMG Worldwide, her company announced on Wednesday.
Jakrajutatip, who is a celebrity media tycoon and a transgender rights advocate, made history by becoming the first woman to own the beauty pageant organizer.
“We are incredibly honored to be acquiring The Miss Universe Organization and working with its visionary leadership team,” Jakrajutatip reportedly said in a statement on Wednesday. “The global reach of the Organization, its relationships with global partners and brands, and its wealth of content, licensing, and merchandising opportunities make this a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio.”
“We seek not only to continue its legacy of providing a platform to passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation,” she added.
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The Thai mogul, who has been outspoken about her experience as a transgender woman, previously set up the Life Inspired For Thailand Foundation as a way to advocate for the rights of transgender people.
The JKN Global Group, which distributes self-produced and international films and TV programs, views the acquisition as “a soft power to build a reputation for Thailand to be known and outstanding around the world.”
The beauty pageant, which has been running for 71 years, was previously co-owned by Donald Trump between 1996 and 2002 before IMG acquired it in 2015.
The organization will be holding its 71st Miss Universe pageant in January 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It will be broadcasted in 165 countries.