Thai transgender owner of Miss Universe pageant files for bankruptcy

JKN Global Group, owned by Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million in 2022.

Thai transgender owner of Miss Universe pageant files for bankruptcy
Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, Thai transgender owner of the Miss Universe Organization. (Source: BBC News)

On November 9, JKN Global Group, the Thai multinational conglomerate that owns the Miss Universe Organization, filed for bankruptcy.

JKN Global Group's leader Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a transgender activist and media entrepreneur, bought the Miss Universe Organization in 2022 for $20 million with a mission to expand diversity within the pageant, according to NBC News.

In its business rehabilitation document filed with the Thai Bankruptcy Court, JKN Global Group says it hopes to solve the brand's "liquidity" issues.

The context: Jakrajutatip's purchase of Miss Universe in 2022 came during a wave of anti-trans rhetoric sparked during Trump's presidency and anti-Asian discrimination due to COVID-19.

  • Jakrajutatip is the third richest trans person in the world, according to Business Insider India, with an estimated net worth of $210 million. She built her fortune after transforming her parents' video store into a media business, she told Them.
  • Jakrajutatip is the founder of the Life Inspired for Transsexuals Foundation, which tackles the stigma that transgender people face in Thailand while advocating for trans people who want to legally change their gender.
  • The Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, was owned by President Donald Trump between 1996-2015.

The bigger picture: Bankruptcy might be seen as a sign of failure, but Jakrajutatip succeeded in creating a safe space for transgender representation in Miss Universe.

  • Ángela Ponce from Madrid, Spain became the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe in 2018.
  • This year's pageant, which will take place in El Salvador on November 18, will have two transgender contestants: Miss Portugal, Marina Machete and Miss Netherlands, Rikkie Kollé.
  • "Trans women are women, full stop," the Miss Universe Organization told CNN, "We are here to celebrate women, full stop. This has been true for more than a decade, and we're proud to have made this change very early on, compared to other programs."