A prominent Thai businesswoman has bought the Miss Universe organization for $20 million, her company announced on Wednesday.
Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip is the founder and CEO of Thailand-based media company JKN Global Groups, which acquired the rights to the contest from IMG Worldwide, a New York-based sports and events company.
She’s also a social media influencer with nearly 19 million followers, a reality TV personality who’s appeared on the Thai versions of “Project Runway” and “Shark Tank,” and a transgender rights advocate who started a foundation that fights for the Thai trans community.
With Wednesday’s announcement, she became the first woman to own the 71-year-old competitions, which are among the oldest televised competitions in the world. They are seen by more than half a billion people each year and broadcast in 165 countries around the world.
“We are incredibly honored to acquire the Miss Universe organization and to work with its visionary leadership team,” Jakrajutatip said in a statement.
“We not only seek to continue its legacy of providing a platform for passionate people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation,” she added. .
According to JKN, the acquisition will build on the legacy of the contest, including increased investment in licensing and merchandising opportunities.
In a post shared on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon, Jakrajutatip said she felt “so overwhelmed” by the millions of Miss Universe fans, some of whom have flooded her timeline with memes, emojis and words of congratulations.
“Thank you all so much once again for your kind messages to me and the JKN team. We are so grateful to have you all in our UNIVERS family. You are truly beautiful, brilliant and the best!!!” she wrote, “I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!”