Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib is a celebrity in Thailand who has starred in reality shows and is outspoken about being transgender.
Her company, JKN Global Group Public Co. Ltd., wrote in a news release Wednesday that it acquired the rights to the Miss Universe pageant from IMG Worldwide, which has owned the Miss Universe Organization since 2015.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump was part owner of the pageant rights from 1996 until IMG’s purchase. The pageant is broadcast in 165 countries, according to IMG.
In a statement, 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.
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The Miss Universe Organization is a global organization with more than 71 years of history that monitors more than 500 million of its pageants worldwide.
MUO’s website describes itself as an organization inclusive for all cultures, backgrounds and religions that “creates and provides a safe space for women to share their stories and drive impact.”
A profile of 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 becoming wealthy, she spent $1 million on sex reassignment surgery and other procedures, the newspaper reported.
Thailand does not have a procedure for transgender people to change their legal gender or many legal protections for the LGBTQ community, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report last year.
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In addition to her business ventures, Chakrajutathib helped establish a nonprofit group, Life Inspired For Transsexual Foundation, to promote trans rights.
The next Miss Universe pageant is slated to take place in January in New Orleans.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.