A Thai business tycoon and transgender activist has purchased the Miss Universe Organisation for $US20 million ($31 million), her company has announced.
Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib controls JKN Global Group Public Co. Ltd and is a celebrity in Thailand who has starred in reality shows.
JKN said it acquired the rights to the Miss Universe pageant from IMG Worldwide LLC, a sports, talent and events marketing company which has held the Miss Universe Organization since 2015.
Former US president Donald Trump was part owner of the pageant rights from 1996 until IMG’s purchase.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ms. Chakrajutathib described the purchase as “a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio”.
JKN, which is involved in content distribution, beverages, food supplements, beauty and consumer products, said the Miss Universe name will be used to promote its consumer products.
Ms. Chakrajutathib also said she wants to use the beauty pageant to inspire women like her.
“It’s a universal platform… I can become the aspiration for so many people, in particular women, LGBTQ, so they can transform,” she said.
Ms. Chakrajutathib has been outspoken about her experience as a transgender woman and also set up the Life Inspired For Thailand Foundation to advocate for the rights to dignity and opportunities for transgender people.
A profile of Ms Chakrapong in the Bangkok Post newspaper earlier this year said in her youth, she studied at an all-male school where she was harassed for identifying as female.
After attaining financial success, she spent 40 million baht ($1.6 million) on sex reassignment surgery and other procedures, the newspaper reported.
Thailand enjoys a positive international reputation when it comes to the rights and lifestyles of LGBTQ communities.
Despite this, the absence of a procedure for transgender people to change their legal gender, coupled with insufficient legal protections and social stigma, limits transgender people’s access to services and exposes them to daily indignities, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report last year.
Source: ABC News