Thai transgender businesswoman buys Miss Universe organization

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip – Photo: Facebook.

A Thai transgender businesswoman and media mogul has bought the company that runs Miss Universe beauty pageants for $20 million.

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, the boss of JKN Global Group, a company that makes TV shows in Thailand, became the first woman to own the pageant in its 71-year history, according to an October 26 statement. Press release of the society.

Jakrajutatip, a reality TV star in her home country, has appeared on Thai versions of Project track and shark tank. She also helped create Life Inspired for Transsexual Foundation, a nonprofit transgender rights group, according to Today’s show.

Jakrajutatip said in a statement that the Miss Universe organization was a “strong strategic addition” to her company’s portfolio.

“We not only seek to continue its legacy of providing a platform for passionate people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation,” she said. .

When announcing its acquisition of the Miss Universe Organization, JKN also announced its intention to generate additional value based on consumer familiarity with the Miss Universe brand. The company plans to launch MU Lifestyle, a new licensing and merchandising arm that will leverage the strength of the Miss Universe brand to create a new line of merchandise, as well as entertainment and business opportunities, that reflect the strength of the brand.

“Our relationships with global partners and brands have never been stronger, and our progressive approach continues to position us at the forefront of our industry,” said Amy Emmerich, CEO of Miss Universe Organization, and Paula Shugart, in a statement.

Jakrajutatip’s purchase of the company, which was co-owned by former US President Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015, coincides with efforts to make the contest – which airs in more than 160 countries – more inclusive.

For example, starting next year, for the first time since its inception, married women and mothers will be able to compete for the title, reports BBC News. The competition already presented its first transgender candidate in 2018when Miss Spain Angela Ponce competed for the crown.

Trump sold the Miss Universe organization to US talent agency WME-IMG after two television partners said they would not broadcast the pageant due to comments Trump made about illegal immigrants when launching his presidential campaign. He also came under fire after former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, a Venezuelan-born model, claimed Trump calls her “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight after winning the title in 1996.

A profile of Jakrajutatip in the Bangkok Post earlier this year told how she attended an all-male school, where she was harassed because of her gender identity. Later, she enters the business world and becomes the third richest transgender person in the worldworth an estimated US$210 million, according to Forbes. She ranks behind Jennifer Pritzker, one of the heirs to the Hyatt Hotel chain fortune, whose net worth is listed at $1.9 billion, and Martine Rothblatt, the chief executive of biotech firm United Therapeutics, whose net worth is estimated at $390 million, according to The Associated Press.

Despite Jakrajutatip’s personal success, his home country falls short when it comes to protecting LGBTQ rights, according to a 2021 report by the world civil rights organization Human Rights Watch. While the country is a destination for some trans people seeking gender-affirming health care, there are no procedures in place for people to change their legal sex or obtain official documents, and the country lacks formal policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in health care. care, education and employment.

Aubrey L. Morgan