JKN Global Group, the Thai owner of the prestigious Miss Universe pageant, has filed for bankruptcy just a year after acquiring the competition for a substantial $20 million. The company cites a “liquidity problem” as the primary reason for its financial downturn.
Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, the chief executive of JKN Global Group and a transgender woman, purchased the Miss Universe pageant with the goal of promoting inclusivity within the competition. However, the ambitious move seems to have led to financial strain as the company grapples with substantial debt, prompting a need for restructuring.
JKN Global Group, which financed the acquisition through bonds, missed a crucial repayment deadline of around $12 million on September 1. This has resulted in a significant decline in the company’s share price by more than 80 percent over the past year.
The Thai Bankruptcy Court has scheduled a hearing date for the petition for business rehabilitation on January 29, 2024. Despite the financial setbacks, JKN Global Group is optimistic about the future, stating that the company can continue its operation under the proposed rehabilitation plan.
Under JKN’s ownership, the Miss Universe pageant underwent notable changes, allowing mothers and married women to participate in the contest starting this year. Additionally, the revised format includes the participation of at least two transgender women for the first time, following Marina Machete’s historic win as Miss Portugal and Rikkie Valerie Kolle being crowned Miss Netherlands in July.
The Miss Universe pageant, with a rich history spanning seven decades, is broadcast in more than 165 countries. Notably, the pageant was once co-owned by former US President Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015. Trump sold the company in 2015 after facing controversies, including criticisms over comments made during his 2016 presidential campaign and allegations from former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.
Reflecting on the sale, Trump stated, “When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble. It has been a great honor making them so successful. The pageants are now in the hands of a great company that will shepherd them to even greater levels of success.”
The 2023 Miss Universe pageant will be held at El Salvador on the 18th of November with Nigerian delegate Michelle Ihueze among the contenders for this years title.
The future of the Miss Universe pageant remains uncertain as JKN Global Group navigates its financial challenges through the bankruptcy proceedings. The pageant’s fate will be closely watched by fans worldwide as it continues to evolve under new ownership and faces the complexities of an ever-changing cultural landscape.