Thai Tycoon and Transgender Woman Buys Miss Universe Pageant For $20M

A Thai business tycoon and transgender activist signed on the dotted line for ownership of the Miss Universe Organization.

Jakapong “Anne” Jakrajutatip, CEO and biggest shareholder of JKN Global Group (JKN), handed over a cool $20 million — making her the first woman to own the famous beauty pageant in its 71-year history.

The acquisition fits into JKN’s ecosystem and gives her a platform to inspire others, she told Reuters.

“It’s a universal platform… I can become the aspiration for so many people, in particular women, LGBTQ, so they can transform,” she said in English.

Jakapong has been outspoken about her experience as a transgender woman and also set up the Life Inspired For Thailand Foundation to advocate for the rights to dignity and opportunities for transgender people.

In addition to her business endeavors, Jakapong is a well-known figure in Thailand after she appeared in the Thai versions of shows such as “Shark Tank” and “Project Runway.”

She hopes to revolutionize the beauty pageant into an encounter that inspires women around the globe, as well as advance tourism in tandem.

“It’s a universal platform… I can become the aspiration for so many people, in particular women, LGBTQ, so they can transform,” she told Reuters.

Jakapong said she believes the pageant will increase Thailand’s Five F-factors tourism campaign — which involves fighting (Thai boxing), film, festival, fashion, and food.

“It’s almost one billion people watching and owned by a Thai transwoman, one hundred percent,” Jakapong told the outlet. “We have the best vehicle now and so why don’t you just use me?”

She is hopeful that Thailand will host the event, which was founded in 1952 and first televised in 1955 by CBS, every three to four years.

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Jakapong acquired the organization much to the satisfaction of former owner and famed superagent Ari Emanuel, who was reported to have had an ugly time trying to find a buyer after declining to reduce the price.

The event materialized as an opponent to the Miss America pageant, which was founded in 1921. Although the two pageants are often confused, the Miss America pageant is owned by the nonprofit Miss America Organization, which also runs a scholarship program that was started in 1945.

Harnaaz Sandhu of India won last year’s Miss Universe, and organizers are hoping with more inclusivity comes more viewers.

Miss Universe’s rule book allowed only single women between 18 and 28 who have never been married or had children to apply. In recent years, both events have tried to evolve past their traditional roots as ratings plunged.

Last year’s Miss Universe pageant, won by India’s Harnaaz Sandhu, drew 2.7 million total viewers on Fox — putting the network in last place among the big four broadcasters.

The Miss Universe in 2018 pageant welcomed its first transgender contestant, and next year will allow married women and mothers in a real push for inclusivity.



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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.


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