- The Miss Universe Organization, which includes the Miss USA pageant, has been sold to Anne Jakrajutatip.
- She is the first woman to own Miss Universe and one of the richest transgender women in the world.
- The news comes weeks after Miss USA president Crystle Stewart was suspended indefinitely.
As controversy continues to engulf the Miss USA pageant, the Miss Universe Organization is making headlines of its own.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Miss Universe Organization has been sold to Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip and her Thailand-based company, JKN Global Group.
Jakrajutatip will become the first woman to own Miss Universe, the organization confirmed to Insider. She is the third richest transgender person in the world with an estimated worth of $210 million, according to Bangkok Post.
The media mogul announced that her company purchased the Miss Universe Organization from IMG for $20 million.
Amy Emmerich and Paula Shugart will retain their respective positions as CEO and president of the Miss Universe Organization.
“We look forward to this next chapter in the Miss Universe story,” Emmerich said in a statement sent to Insider. “In the short time I’ve been with the organization, I’ve seen firsthand the passion of our employees, franchisees, and partners, as well as our incredible community.”
“Paula and I see tremendous opportunity with JKN to create further growth for this organization on the global stage and women around the world,” she added. “Despite having recently celebrated the organization’s legacy of more than 70 years, we are just getting started.”
In the same statement, Jakrajutatip said she was proud to acquire the Miss Universe Organization.
“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.
It’s a huge move for the international pageant, which began in 1952. The Miss Universe Organization — which includes the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants — was owned by Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015, when NBC dropped the pageants due to his controversial remarks while campaigning for president. That same year, Trump sold the organization to IMG.
Jakrajutatip transformed her family’s declining video-rental business into JKN, which is now a leading distributor of movies, TV shows, and original content in Thailand. Jakrajutatip has become well-recognized in her native country, starring in local versions of “Project Runway” and “Shark Tank,” according to Reuters.
Jakrajutatip is also a transgender-rights advocate, founding the Life Inspired For Transsexuals Foundation (LIFT). In October 2021, Jakrajutatip told Elite Plus Magazine that she moved to Australia to study business when she was a teenager because she was bullied by classmates in Thailand for her gender identity. When she returned to Bangkok at the age of 21, she began working for her family’s business.
Jakrajutatip told the magazine that one of her dreams was to compete in an international beauty pageant.
“There are some I could still possibly contest, maybe all but the Miss Universe pageant,” she said. “But who knows what the future holds?”
The future is still up in the air for Miss USA president Crystle Stewart, who was suspended indefinitely by the Miss Universe Organization earlier this month following allegations that the 2022 Miss USA pageant was rigged or heavily favored for Miss Texas R’Bonney Gabriel, who took the crown on October 3.
Numerous contestants spoke out about the pageant, leading Emmerich and Shugart to suspend Stewart on October 8. The Miss Universe Organization confirmed to Insider that the investigation remains ongoing. A spokesperson for Stewart told Insider that she was complying with all requests from Miss Universe.
It remains to be seen how this new move for Miss Universe will affect the Miss USA organization. The next Miss Universe competition will be held in New Orleans on January 14.