Thai tycoon and transgender rights advocate buys Miss Universe for $20 million


A Thai media mogul and transgender rights advocate has bought the Miss Universe organization for $20 million, according to his company, which will now host the international beauty pageant.

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip is the CEO of JKN Global Group PCL, a media distribution company based in Thailand, although she is perhaps best known for her role in Thai versions of reality shows including « Project Runway » .

She has also spoken openly about her experiences as a transgender woman and has worked in transgender rights advocacy in Thailand.

JKN Global Group announced the takeover on Wednesday, saying in a press release that it plans to grow the Miss Universe organization by expanding into Asia – and launching new merchandise including skincare, cosmetics, lifestyle products, dietary supplements and beverages.

Jakkaphong said the company was « incredibly honored » to make the acquisition.

“We not only seek to continue its legacy of providing a platform for passionate people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation,” she said. .

In a joint statement, the CEO and President of the Miss Universe Organization said they were « delighted to continue the evolution of the Miss Universe Organization with JKN ».

« Our progressive approach continues to position us at the forefront of our industry, » they said.

The purchase makes Jakkaphong the first female owner of the Miss Universe organization, according to JKN’s press release.

The Miss Universe beauty pageant, one of the most watched pageants in the world, has been around since 1952.

Like many other major competitions, it has had to accommodate growing public demand for greater diversity, representation and inclusion over the past decade. It only lifted its ban on transgender contestants in 2012, after a Canadian contestant threatened legal action when told she would be disqualified because of her sex assigned at birth.

And while some critics say the premise of a beauty pageant is inherently flawed, others say there has been significant progress in recent years.

Beauty pageants for transgender contestants have risen to prominence, including Miss International Queen, launched in 2004 and held this year in Thailand. Some countries have launched their own versions; in 2017, India held its first-ever Miss Transqueen India pageant, which aims to celebrate gender fluidity and increase the visibility of India’s transgender community.

And in 2019, the winners of five major pageants — Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA — were all women of color, a remarkable milestone given that black women weren’t allowed to compete. at Miss America until 1940, and the first black contestant didn’t take that step until 30 years later.

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