IMG has sold the Miss Universe Organization (MUO), which oversees the annual campaign, to Thailand's transgender businessman Ann Jakapong Jakrayuthathep. For the first time in the organization's 71-year history, it has been led by a woman.
According to the Associated Press, MUO has been acquired by Thai media group Jakrajutatip JKN Global Media Public Company Limited for $20 million.
The businesswoman, who is also a reality TV star in Thailand, said she was looking forward to continuing the legacy of the Miss Universe organization, calling it a "strong strategic addition to our portfolio".
"We are honored to take over the Miss Universe organization and to work with their visionary leadership team," Jakrayutatip said in a statement about the acquisition. “Not only do we want to continue his legacy by providing a platform for passionate people from different walks of life, cultures and backgrounds, but we also want to develop the brand for the next generation.”
The statement said that Amy Emmerich and Paula Shugart, current CEO and President of MUO, will remain in these roles under the new leadership.
Emmerich said both executives are looking forward to seeing the Miss Universe organization grow with this new acquisition.
"Paola and I see JKN as a great opportunity to grow the organization on the global stage and among women around the world," Emmerich said in a statement. "Although we recently celebrated more than 70 years of the company's history, we are just getting started."
Both IMG and JKN Global Media emphasize the importance of global partnerships that can help create an inclusive environment.
“We are equally proud of the organization's progress in becoming a more comprehensive and powerful platform for advancing business issues and women's work,” said Mark Shapiro, president of parent company Endeavor IMG. .
In addition to her commercial activities, Jakrayuthatip also advocates for transgender rights and helped found the non-profit Life Inspired for Transsexual Foundation.
MUO was owned by former President Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015 before it was sold to IMG.
According to IMG, the organization held the first Miss Universe contest in 1952, which is now broadcast annually in 165 countries. IMG called the competition "the world's favorite women's event" in a press release.
Angela Ponce of Spain made history in 2018 as the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.