A Thai business magnate and transgender advocate Jakapong “Anne” Jakrajutatip bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million.
The purchase made Jakrajutatip, CEO and main shareholder of JKN Global Group, the first female owner of the beauty pageant in its entire 71-year existence.
Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, CEO of JKN Global Group, is the first woman owner of the Miss Universe Organization. pic.twitter.com/zcN6aGR7A6
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) October 28, 2022
Aside from her wealth and stature within the business community, she’s also garnered fame from appearances on TV shows such as “Shark Tank” and “Project Runway.”
Jakrajutatip told Reuters her plans for the pageant to be an inspiration to women worldwide.
“It’s a universal platform… I can become the aspiration for so many people, in particular women, LGBTQ, so they can transform.”
Jakrajutatip also said that she hopes the beauty contest will improve Thailand’s tourism sectors like Thai boxing, 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 hopes to have Thailand host the widely viewed pageant every 3-4 years.
Miss Universe, which was founded in 1952 and originally aired on CBS in 1955, quickly revealed itself as a threat to the household Miss America pageant.
The types of change Jakrajutatip hopes to bring to Miss Universe would be stark in contrast to their traditional rules of the past.
Unlike other pageants, Miss Universe only allows women between the ages of 18-28 to apply for entry. Even further, regulations only allow for the application of single women who have never had children.
A steep decline in the show’s ratings over the last few years has sparked a push to remove those restrictions many view as outdated.
For instance, last year’s Miss Universe Fox broadcast had a total of only 2.7 million viewers, good for last place among the four major broadcasters.
In 2018, however, the pageant had its first-ever transgender contestant. Next year’s show will feature married women and mothers for the first time.
Jakrajutatip seems determined to keep Miss Universe driving forward on a more progressive, inclusive course.