Jakkaphong's pageant dream comes true
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Jakkaphong's pageant dream comes true

CEO of JKN Global Group becomes first Thai woman to own the Miss Universe Organization, and she has bold plans for its future


Dubbed by Forbes Thailand the most powerful trans woman in the world, Jakkaphong "Anne" Jakrajutatip, CEO of JKN Global Group Plc, has just made her dream come true as the first Thai woman to own the global beauty pageant Miss Universe Organization (MUO) in its 70-year history.

"And to push to sustain the promotion of Thailand's soft power, I will organise the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Thailand more frequently." — Jakkaphong "Anne" Jakrajutatip, CEO of JKN Global Group PLC

From now on, the Miss Universe beauty pageant will undergo a series of transformations, beginning with Thailand being the host country in 2023; married women will also be allowed to take part in the contest. At the same time, more transgender women will be encouraged to participate.

That is the key message announced recently by Anne, the current owner of MUO, the organisation that has held the licence to organise the Miss Universe pageant for the past seven decades.

Anne told the Bangkok Post she intends to use the MUO to promote Thailand's soft power to the rest of the world in five key areas, namely food, film, fashion, festivals and fighting (muay thai).

"Every year, the Miss Universe pageant is broadcast live and viewed by more than 500 million people around the world, while at least 94 countries normally acquire the right to contest in the competition," she said.

"And to push to sustain the promotion of Thailand's soft power, I will organise the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Thailand more frequently," she said.

"More importantly, we will adopt a new concept, 'One Universe', in which opportunities to participate in the competition will be given also to trans women and married women, and fairness in the contest judging will be ensured. This will be the world's first beauty contest with real gender equality and inclusion," said the JKN CEO.

According to information provided by JKN, the company has already sealed the US$20 million (about 800 million baht) deal with IMG World LLC, an affiliate of Endeavor Group Holding Inc, the owner of MUO.

This means Anne is the first Thai to acquire ownership of the MUO. She is also the first non-American transgender licence owner to organise the Miss Universe beauty pageant. She has previously been called by Forbes "the most powerful trans woman in the world".

Andrea Meza, Miss Universe 2020; Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018; Paula Shugart, President of Miss Universe Organization; Jakkaphong "Anne" Jakrajutatip, Founder & CEO of JKN Global Group Plc; Amy Emmerich, CEO of Miss Universe Organization; Harnaaz Sandhu, Miss Universe 2021; Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011; and Natalie Glebova, Miss Universe 2005, are seen at a press event to announce the MUO ownership deal. (Photos: JKN Global Group)

"To be the owner of MUO is the fulfilment of a personal desire of mine. Living a life as a trans woman, I have been bullied all my life. Under a lot of pressure, I have been living and learning to overcome numerous obstacles. I've been fighting for acceptance. I have spent time living abroad and worked to support myself while studying," she said.

"[Honestly] I would never have thought I would become the person I am now, the owner of a world-class reputable global brand. I believe that is a result of my endless efforts to transform life pressure into a driving force for success. I want to be an inspiration to all women, especially trans women," she said.

"I will also use the Miss Universe trademark to strengthen JKN's commerce in the consumer products category in every country to upgrade its reputation to a global content commerce company," she said. "This will ultimately benefit our country in terms of soft power and tourism promotion at the global level. Tourism is our country's No 1 source of income," she said.

Before she succeeded in acquiring MUO, JKN had to compete fiercely with many other companies and individuals, she said, adding that she strongly believes her company was selected because MUO trusts her and believes in her company's business model and capabilities to carry the brand forward for another 70 years.

Currently, JKN is a company producing television shows that include news, reality shows, talk shows, and series, offering air time to advertisements and public relations campaigns. The company also produces food supplements and personal care products and holds a variety of content copyrights from United States studios, South Korea, India, China and the Philippines.

The entrepreneur said she is now ready to push for more rights for trans women in Thailand including the right to adopt a female honorific, legal marriage and equal work opportunities.

In addition to her dream of becoming a "legendary trans woman", she said she is willing to contribute more to the nation in whatever ways people think she can help society.

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