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Thai tycoon and transgender advocate buys Miss Universe pageant for $20M

A Thai business tycoon and transgender activist signed on the dotted line for ownership of the Miss Universe Organization.

Jakapong “Anne” Jakrajutatip, CEO and biggest shareholder of JKN Global Group (JKN), handed over a cool $20 million — making her the first woman to own the famous beauty pageant in its 71-year history.

In addition to her business ventures, Jakapong is a well-known figure in Thailand after she appeared in the Thai versions of shows such as “Shark Tank” and “Project Runway.”

She hopes to transform the beauty pageant into an event that inspires women around the globe, as well as boosts tourism in tandem.

“It’s a universal platform… I can become the aspiration for so many people, in particular women, LGBTQ, so they can transform,” she told Reuters.

Jakapong said she hopes the pageant will boost Thailand’s Five F-factors tourism campaign — which includes fighting (Thai boxing), film, festival, fashion, and food.

The former Miss Universe owner, Ari Emanuel, was delighted Jakrajutatip could buy the pageant at the sale price.
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“It’s almost one billion people watching and owned by a Thai transwoman, one hundred percent,” Jakapong told the outlet. “We have the best vehicle now and so why don’t you just use me?”

She hopes Thailand will host the event, which was founded in 1952 and first televised in 1955 by CBS, every three to four years.

Jakapong bought the organization much to the delight of former owner and famed superagent Ari Emanuel, who reportedly had an ugly time trying to find a buyer after refusing to slash the price.

The event emerged as a competitor to the Miss America pageant, which was founded in 1921. Although the two pageants are often confused, the Miss America pageant is owned by the nonprofit Miss America Organization, which also runs a scholarship program that was launched in 1945.

Harnaaz Sandhu of India won last year's Miss Universe, and organizers are hoping with more inclusivity comes more viewers.
Harnaaz Sandhu of India won last year’s Miss Universe, and organizers are hoping with more inclusivity comes more viewers.
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Miss Universe’s rule book allowed only single women between 18 and 28 who have never been married or had children to apply. In recent years, both events have tried to evolve past their traditional roots as ratings plunged.

Last year’s Miss Universe pageant, won by India’s Harnaaz Sandhu, drew 2.7 million total viewers on Fox — putting the network in last place among the big four broadcasters.

The Miss Universe in 2018 pageant welcomed its first transgender contestant, and next year will allow married women and mothers in a real push for inclusivity.

With Post wires

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