Trans activist and Thai celebrity, Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, is officially the first woman to own the Miss Universe beauty pageant. She purchased the company that owns the global contest for €20 million.
An established business executive, Jakrajutatip owns the JKN Global Group and produces popular television shows in Thailand. She is a well-known celebrity who has previously starred in reality television shows similar to Project Runway and Shark Tank. Jakrajutatip is also a Trans woman and LGBTQ+ activist who manages a Trans rights nonprofit organisation called Life Inspired for Transsexual Foundation which advocates for Trans visibility and equality.
The Miss Universe pageant was previously co-owned by Donald Trump who sold the company during his 2016 presidential campaign after multiple television partners refused to broadcast the pageant in protest over his comments regarding Mexican immigrants. As a Trans woman, Jakrajutatip’s ownership of the organisation is sure to make the beauty pageant more inclusive, and upon purchasing the company, Jakrajutatip shared:
“We are incredibly honored to be acquiring The Miss Universe Organisation and working with its visionary leadership team…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.”
Miss Universe was founded in 1952 as a marketing initiative by a California clothing company, and it has become one of the longest-running competitions in the world. The pageant has been broadcasts for 71 years in 165 countries and is viewed by half a billion people each year. Historically, contestants were only allowed to enter if they had never been married, had no children, and were between the ages of 18 and 28. However, beginning in 2023, the competition will be open to women who have children and women who are married.
The Miss Universe pageant began allowing Transgender contestants to compete in the contest in 2012. Angela Ponce, Miss Spain, was the first Trans woman to enter, competing for the title in 2018. At the time, she said that she felt a lot of pride and responsibility as the first Trans contestant.
Thailand is one of Asia’s most LGBTQ+ friendly countries and it is home to Miss International Queen which is the largest Transgender beauty competition in the world. It was founded in 2004 and strives to build equality and acceptance and promote tourism in Thailand.
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