Reality star and transgender activist becomes first woman to own Miss Universe pageant with $20m purchase

Reality star and transgender activist becomes first woman to own Miss Universe pageant with $20m purchase

A Thai transgender advocate and reality TV star has purchased the Miss Universe Organisation, making history as the first woman to own the global beauty brand.

Jakkaphong “Anne” Jakrajutatip, the CEO and biggest shareholder of JKN Global Group, announced on 26 October that the Thailand-based media company bought the Miss Universe Organisation for $20m. Jakrajutatip, 43, is now the first woman to own the Miss Universe Organisation in its 71-year legacy.

“We are incredibly honored to be acquiring The Miss Universe Organisation and working with its visionary leadership team,” she said in a press release. “The global reach of the Organisation, 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 said.

In addition to serving as CEO of her own media company, Jakrajutatip is also a reality TV star in her home country of Thailand – appearing on Thai versions of Shark Tank and Project Runway. In 2018, she founded Life Inspired For Transsexual (LIFT) Foundation, a nonprofit transgender rights advocacy group.

JKN Global Group purchased the Miss Universe Organisation from Endeavor’s IMG, who acquired the global beauty brand in 2015. The pageant was previously owned by former President Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015. The organisation will continue to be led by its current CEO, Amy Emmerich, and its president, Paula Shugar.

Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, CEO of JKN Global Group, and first woman owner of Miss Universe Organisation (JKN Global Group)
Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, CEO of JKN Global Group, and first woman owner of Miss Universe Organisation (JKN Global Group)

Following the deal, Endeavor president Mark Shapiro said in a statement: “We’re equally proud of the progress the organization has made in becoming a more inclusive and powerful platform where women can advance both their business objectives and their cause-based work.”

The Miss Universe Pageant, which was founded in 1952, is one of the most watched pageants in the world and broadcasts in 165 countries.

The organisation has recently made many changes to become more inclusive. In 2018, the pageant crowned its first transgender woman, Angela Ponce, as Miss Universe. Starting in 2023, Miss Universe will also allow married women and mothers to compete in the competition.