Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip etched her name in history by acquiring Miss Universe in October 2022, becoming the first transgender to own the organization since its inception in 1952.
Since taking the helm, Jakrajutatip has implemented significant changes, such as opening the competition to all women aged 18 and above. Her journey to success traces back to transforming her family’s struggling video-rental store into the flourishing multimillion-dollar enterprise known as JKN Global Group.
Born and raised in Bangkok, Jakrajutatip grappled with her gender identity from a young age. In a January interview on “The Journal” podcast, she revealed that she recognized being “trapped in the wrong body” since the age of 5. Overcoming childhood bullying, she found her voice through a high school public speaking class, aspiring to use the microphone as a tool for self-expression and leadership.
“I wanted to have the weapon that is the microphone to express my attitude and exhibit that leadership to everyone,” she said. “No more bullies. You cannot do anything harmful to me because I’m clever and smart and I can be successful.”
After attending university in Sydney, Australia, Jakrajutatip returned to Thailand to take charge of her parents’ video-rental business. Despite acknowledging her transgender identity, societal constraints in Thailand prevented her from coming out.
Transforming her parents’ store into a content distribution empire, Jakrajutatip secured major deals, starting with the BBC’s “Walking With Dinosaurs” documentary. Expanding globally, she ventured into beauty lines, TV channels, and diversified her business portfolio.
Oprah Winfrey served as Jakrajutatip’s inspiration in her media career. In 2018, she launched a nonprofit supporting transgender individuals, later undergoing gender confirmation surgery. Facing challenges with legal gender recognition, Jakrajutatip’s dedication to advocacy continued, marked by the establishment of the LIFT Foundation in Thailand.
Her desire to own Miss Universe crystallized after witnessing Miss Spain 2018 Angela Ponce’s historic participation. In October 2022, Jakrajutatip acquired Miss Universe for $20 million, immediately expressing her commitment to evolving the brand.
Jakrajutatip reaffirmed her commitment to Miss Universe in a separate statement that she posted to her Instagram on November 9.
“I always put The Miss Universe Organization as my first priority in life,” she said in the caption of the post. “No matter how joyful or painful it’s gonna be…. Our universe must go on, must be great and must stay on top as the legendary Beauty Olympics in the World! I will sacrifice and do everything for the great success of OUR UNIVERSE!”
Despite recent challenges, including her company filing a “business rehabilitation” petition, Jakrajutatip remains devoted to Miss Universe. The 72nd competition, held in San Salvador, El Salvador, underscores her commitment to ensuring the legacy and success of the renowned Beauty Olympics.