The trans activist company behind the Miss Universe pageant has sensationally filed for bankruptcy just days before the pageant was due to take place in El Salvador.
Thai-born trans woman Anne Jakrajutatip acquired the event for $20 million from IMG Media in 2022, adding it to JKN Global Group’s portfolio. Between 1996 and 2015, the Miss Universe Pageant was part of Donald Trump’s business empire.
The company also owns Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.
The bankruptcy comes after the company missed a $12 million loan. Despite the setback, JKN is optimistic and claims the event will go ahead as planned.
“Miss Universe Organization, just one of our many business units, is completely clean,” Jakrajutatip said in a post on Instagram.
Trans activist Anne Jakrajutatip, third from the left in the photo with various election winners of recent years, bought the election last year
Flight attendant Marina Machete, 23, from Portugal, will compete to become the first trans woman to win the competition at this year’s event in El Salvador
The other trans woman participating is Rikkie Valerie Kolle from the Netherlands
The entrepreneur described it as her “first priority in life, no matter how joyful or painful it may be.”
The preliminary rounds for the pageant start from November 15 to 16 and the main show starts on November 18.
After participating in the pageant, new rules were introduced allowing mothers and married women to participate. The first trans participant was the Spanish Angela Ponce, who took a shot at the tiara in 2018.
Anne is a reality show star in Thailand on shows like Project Runway and has been outspoken about being a transgender woman.
She said at the time of the purchase that she wanted to “evolve the brand for the next generation.”
This year, at least two trans women, flight attendant Marina Machete, 23, from Portugal, and Rikkie Valerie Kolle, from the Netherlands, will participate. If they win, they would be the first trans women to wear the tiara.
In a public statement after Machete’s coronation in October, Miss University said: ‘Trans women are women, period. We’re here to celebrate women, period. This has been true for more than a decade and we are proud to have made this change very early compared to other programs.”
Jakrajutatip said at the time of purchase that she wanted to ‘evolve the brand for the next generation’
R’Bonney Gabriel after being crowned Miss University 2022
Between 1996 and 2015, the Miss Universe Pageant was considered part of Donald Trump’s business empire
Nearly 90 entrants from around the world took part in the competition, organizers said, with “personal statements, in-depth interviews and various categories including evening gowns and swimwear.”
The winner will be crowned by last year’s winner, the American R’Bonney Gabriel.
In the question-and-answer session in the final phase of the competition for the three finalists, Gabriel was asked last time how she would try to show that Miss Universe is “a powerful and progressive organization” if she were to win.
“I would use it to be a transformational leader,” she responded, citing her work using recycled materials in her fashion design and teaching sewing classes to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. “It’s so important to invest in others, invest in our community and use your unique talent to make a difference.”
That event took place in New Orleans.
According to Miss Universe, Gabriel is a former high school volleyball player and a graduate of the University of North Texas. A short biography on the organization’s website states that she is also CEO of her own sustainable clothing line.
“We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds with other people in our lives, we transform them and use that as a vehicle for change,” Gabriel said.
Since the beginning of 2022, the JKN share price has fallen more than 80 percent. In the wake of the bankruptcy, the company filed a petition to “adjust interest rates on existing debt and expand the debt repayment method,” reports The Bangkok Post.
In 2015, Trump was forced to sell the election after TV companies refused to do business with the then-presidential candidate because of his racist comments during his campaign.
Around this time, a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, said Trump named her Miss Piggy after she gained weight after winning the 1996 competition.
“When I bought the parades many years ago, they were in serious trouble. It was a great honor to make them so successful. The parades are now in the hands of a great company that will lead them to even greater successes,” Trump said after the sale.