Oct 26, 2022 - Economy

Thai business mogul becomes first woman to own Miss Universe

Photo: JKN Global Group

Thai transgender business mogul Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip has become the first woman to own the Miss Universe pageant after purchasing the franchise for $20 million.

Driving the news: IMG announced Wednesday that it has sold The Miss Universe Organization, which oversees the annual competition, to Thailand-based JKN Global Group, a media company that Jakrajutatip leads as CEO.

What they're saying: Jakrajutatip called the "global reach" of The Miss Universe Organization "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 a statement.
  • "We look forward to this next chapter in the Miss Universe story," said Amy Emmerich, CEO of The Miss Universe Organization, who noted that the acquisition is a "tremendous opportunity" to create "further growth for this organization on the global stage and women around the world."
  • JKN said in a press release that it plans to leverage the Miss Universe brand to create a new licensing and merchandising arm, among other projects.

The big picture: Known in Asia as a trans pioneer, Jakrajutatip started out working in her family business before establishing a media giant with audiences around the world.

  • The billionaire also helped launch a nonprofit that advocates for trans rights.
  • The Miss Universe pageant started in 1952 and broadcasts in 165 countries today. In 2018, Miss Spain — Angela Ponce — became the first trans contestant to compete in the competition.
  • Former president Donald Trump owned the organization between 1996 and 2015.
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