A transgender Thai businesswoman has bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million, amid the competition being marred by a cheating scandal and claims of an executive being accused of sexual harassment.
Jakkaphong ‘Anne’ Jakrajutatip, CEO and biggest shareholder of JKN Global Group Pcl (JKN), is a celebrity in Thailand, starring in local versions of reality shows Project Runway and Shark Tank.
Her purchase of the organization marks the first time the beauty pageant will be owned by a woman, her company said on Wednesday.
Jakrajutatip’s has been outspoken about her experience as a transgender woman and also set up the Life Inspired For Thailand Foundation to advocate for the rights to dignity and opportunities for transgender people.
The news was announced just days after Miss Universe suspended the organizers of Miss USA amid claims that its bosses crowned a winner unfairly this month, among other ongoing drama, including a cheating scandal and claims of sexual harassment.
Jakapong ‘Anne’ Jakrajutatip, a transgender Thai businesswoman, has bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million
Jakrajutatip is CEO and biggest shareholder of JKN Global Group Pcl (JKN), and is a celebrity in Thailand, starring in local versions of reality shows Project Runway and Shark Tank
The annual beauty contest run by the Miss Universe Organization, which was co-owned by Donald Trump between 1996 and 2002, is broadcast in 165 countries and has been running for 71 years.
In a statement, Chakrapong described the purchase of the organization as ‘a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio.’
JKN, which is involved in content distribution, beverages, food supplements, beauty and consumer products, said the Miss Universe name will be used to promote its consumer products.
The acquisition is ‘a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio,’ said Jakapong, adding that Miss Universe, with its content, licensing and merchandising opportunities, plans to expand in Asia.
JKN produces its own shows and distributes content in Thailand from abroad including documentaries and Bollywood dramas. Its shares jumped nearly 10% in early trade on Wednesday.
A profile of Chakrapong in the Bangkok Post newspaper earlier this year said in her youth, she studied at an all-male school where she was harassed for identifying as female.
After attaining financial success, she spent 40 million baht ($1 million) on sex reassignment surgery and other procedures, the newspaper reported.
While Thailand enjoys a positive international reputation when it comes to the rights and lifestyles of LGBTQ communities, the absence of a procedure for transgender people to change their legal gender, coupled with insufficient legal protections and social stigma, limits transgender people’s access to services and exposes them to daily indignities, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report last year.
This year, the 2022 competition has been drowning in scandal following the controversial crowning on October 3, where contestants accused ‘woke’ Miss USA of giving 28-year-old winner R’Bonney Gabriel preferential treatment and preselecting her to win because she’s Filipina – making her the first Filipina American to be crowned.
Gabriel has denied all the allegations against her, saying there was ‘no unfair advantage’ and she ‘would never enter any pageant or any competition that I would know I would win.’
Miss Brand suspended after contestants accused Miss USA organizers of rigging competition for a ‘woke winner’ to be crowned (pictured: Crystle Stewart, president of Miss USA)
In addition to the ongoing scandal, Stewart’s husband’s sexual misconduct case – brought forth by the Class of 2021 – was exclusively revealed by DailyMail.com, where contestants accused him of sexually harassing ‘young models’ and sending a video of his penis to a former contestant in 2018 (pictured: Stewart and Max Sebrects in 2019)
R’Bonney Gabriel was crowned on October 3 (pictured) and Miss Missouri, Mikala McGhee, said she was preselected to win and giving favoritism throughout the competition and believes she may have won because she is a ‘woke’ contestant as the first Filipina to win
Miss Missouri, Mikala McGhee, 28, of St Louis, exclusively told DailyMail.com last week that Miss Brand Corp., which runs the annual pageant, has been stood down following allegations that Gabriel was the ‘predetermined winner.’
Miss USA Director Crystle Stewart is the director of Miss Brand, but it is unclear if she was suspended by the company itself. An internal probe into Miss Universe is also being led by the law firm Holland & Knight.
In addition to the ongoing scandal, Stewart’s husband is embroiled in a sexual misconduct case – brought by the Class of 2021 – which saw contestants accuse him of sexually harassing ‘young models’ and sending a video of his penis to a former contestant in 2018.
Class of 2022 contestants have told DailyMail.com they had no idea prior to the competition that Max Sebrechts stepped down from the board in January after contestants accused him of being a predator.
Much of the Miss USA, Miss Academy, and Miss Brand is run out of Houston and contestants are accusing the organizations of favoring Texan beauty queens.