Thai business mogul and trans activist buys Miss Universe Organization for $20 million


IMG has sold the Miss Universe Organization (MUO), which oversees the annual pageant, to Thai transgender business mogul Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip’s company. It is the first time in its 71-year history that a woman has owned the organization.

Jakrajutatip’s Thailand-based media group, JKN Global Media Public Company Limited, bought MUO for $20 million, according to The Associated Press.

The businesswoman, who is also a reality TV star in Thailand, said she’s excited to carry on the Miss Universe Organization legacy, calling it a “strong, strategic addition to our portfolio.”

“We are incredibly honored to take on The Miss Universe Organization and to work with their visionary leadership team,” Jakrajutatip said in a statement announcing the acquisition. “Not only do we want to continue his legacy of providing a platform for passionate people from different backgrounds, cultures and traditions, but also to further develop the brand for the next generation.”

Amy Emmerich and Paula Shugart, the current CEO and President of MUO, will continue to hold these roles under the new leadership, the statement said.

Emmerich said both executives look forward to building on the Miss Universe organization through this new acquisition.

“Paula and I see a tremendous opportunity with JKN to create continued growth for this organization on the global stage and for women around the world,” Emmerich said in the statement. “While we recently celebrated the organization’s 70+ year legacy, we’re just getting started.”

Both IMG and JKN Global Media have emphasized the importance of global partnerships, which can help create an inclusive environment.

“We are equally proud of the strides the organization has made to become a more inclusive and empowered platform for women to advance both their business goals and their cause-driven work,” said Mark Shapiro, President of Endeavor – the parent company of IMG .

In addition to her business activities, Jakrajutatip also campaigns for transgender rights and helped found the non-profit Life Inspired for Transsexual Foundation.

MUO previously co-owned former President Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015 before it was sold to IMG.

The organization held its very first Miss Universe pageant in 1952, which is now broadcast annually in 165 countries, according to IMG. In the press release, IMG called the competition “the most-watched female event in the world.”

Angela Ponce from Spain made history in 2018 first openly transgender person to participate in the Miss Universe pageant.

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