A Thai Trans Woman Now Owns the Miss Universe Contest

A Thai Trans Woman Now Owns the Miss Universe Contest

After almost two decades under Donald Trump's ownership, the Miss Universe Organization has been bought out by Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, who heads up one of Thailand's largest media companies, JKN Global Group. Making her not only the first woman, but also first transgender woman, to own the international beauty pageant, the move comes amidst a larger push by the Miss Universe contest to be more inclusive.

Trump sold his stake in 2015 after two television companies threatened to no longer broadcast the contest, following inflammatory comments on illegal immigrants during his 2016 presidential campaign. Needless to say, Jakrajutatip's acquisition signals a bright new era for Miss Universe. In addition to the new owner, Miss Universe also announced that it will be opening up the competition to married women and mothers who were previously barred from competing.

"The global reach of the Organization, its relationships with global partners and brands, and its wealth of content, licensing, and merchandising opportunities make this a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio," Jakrajutatip said in a statement announcing the news. "We seek not only to continue its legacy of providing a platform to passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures and traditions but also to evolve the brand for the next generation."

Last year's Miss Universe saw one of the competition's most inclusive runways to date with a couple contestants using the platform for social activism. Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong memorably dazzled during the national costume portion of the night, wearing a long red and white cap with the words, "Stop Asian Hate," across the back. Miss Canada Nova Stevens also drew similar praise for her Wakanda-inspired gown, which was characterized as a "fight for equality" outfitted with a full-body armor and shield that signified "strength and resistance."

Photo via Getty/Amir Levy