Thai business tycoon, transgender activist buys Miss Universe org for $20 million

The contestants will take part in the Miss Universe Myanmar 2022 pageant in Yangon, Myanmar on October 1, 2022. (Photo by Myo Kyaw Soe/Xinhua via Getty Images)

A Thai business tycoon and transgender activist has bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million, her company announced on Wednesday.

Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib, who owns JKN Global Group Public Co. Ltd. controlled, is a celebrity in Thailand who has starred in reality shows and is open about being a transgender woman. She helped establish a nonprofit group, the Life Inspired For Transsexual Foundation, to advance transgender rights.

JKN said it acquired the rights to the Miss Universe pageant from IMG Worldwide LLC, a sports, talent and events marketing company that has held the Miss Universe organization since 2015. Former US President Donald Trump was a shareholder in the rights to the election from 1996 until IMG bought it.

JKN said it established a subsidiary in the United States, JKN Metaverse Inc., to own the Miss Universe Organization. According to IMG, the Miss Universe pageant will be broadcast in 165 countries.

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In a statement, Chakrapong described the purchase as “a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio.” JKN, which is engaged in distribution of content, beverages, dietary supplements, beauty and consumer products, said the Miss Universe name is used to promote its consumer products.

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Miss Mexico Andrea Meza will be at the 69th Miss Universe Pageant at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on May 16, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images)

A profile of Chakrapong in the Bangkok Post newspaper earlier this year said she was studying at an all-male school in her youth, where she was harassed for identifying as a woman. After achieving financial success, she spent 40 million baht ($1 million) on sex reassignment surgeries 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 lack of a procedure for transgender people to change their legal gender combined with inadequate legal protections and social stigma limit transgender people’s access services and disclosures leave them exposed to daily humiliations, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report last year.

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