Former Trump Property, Now in Thai Hands, Struggles Financially Amid Inclusive Changes
JKN Global Group, the Thai owner of the iconic Miss Universe pageant, has filed for bankruptcy just a year after acquiring the competition from former US president Donald Trump’s business empire for $20 million (£16.4 million). The move comes as the company grapples with a “liquidity problem” and seeks to restructure its substantial debt.
Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, the transgender woman CEO of JKN, purchased the Miss Universe pageant as part of an initiative to make the competition more inclusive. However, the company’s ambitious plans seem to have taken a toll as it faces financial challenges. Despite the bankruptcy filing, JKN reassures that its operations can continue under a rehabilitation plan.
Funding for the acquisition was secured through bonds, but JKN missed a repayment deadline of approximately $12 million on September 1. Over the past year, the company’s share price has plummeted by more than 80%, indicating the severity of its financial struggles.
The Thai Bankruptcy Court has scheduled a hearing for the petition for business rehabilitation on January 29, according to JKN. The company expresses its commitment to resolving the crisis and moving forward with its operations.
Under JKN’s ownership, the Miss Universe pageant underwent significant changes, embracing inclusivity by allowing mothers and married women to participate in the contest starting this year. The revised format also marked a historic moment with at least two trans women, Marina Machete and Rikkie Valerie Kolle, participating and winning titles in Miss Portugal and Miss Netherlands, respectively.
The Miss Universe pageant, with a legacy spanning seven decades, is broadcast in over 165 countries. Formerly co-owned by Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015, the pageant underwent a change in ownership after television partners withdrew from broadcasting due to controversial comments made by Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign.
While reflecting on the sale of the Miss Universe Organization, Trump stated, “When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble. It has been a great honour making them so successful.” The former US president sold the company to US talent agency WME-IMG in 2015.
As the Miss Universe pageant faces financial uncertainties under its Thai ownership, the global audience waits to see how the iconic competition will navigate these challenges and maintain its stature on the international stage.