Miss Universe Pageant Owner, JKN Global, Declares Bankruptcy Amid Financial Struggles
JKN Global Group, the Thai firm that acquired the Miss Universe pageant for $20 million just a year ago, has filed for bankruptcy, citing a “liquidity problem” that it aims to address. The company’s CEO, Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, a transgender woman, purchased the renowned pageant with aspirations of making it more inclusive. However, JKN Global has encountered financial challenges and substantial debt, prompting the decision to seek bankruptcy protection.
Despite efforts to modernise the pageant and adapt to changing societal norms, JKN Global faced difficulties, including the non-payment of around $12 million in bonds that was due on September 1. Consequently, the firm experienced a significant decline in its share price, plummeting more than 80% in the past year.
JKN Global assured stakeholders that the company would continue its operations while undergoing a proposed rehabilitation plan. The Thai Bankruptcy Court has scheduled a hearing for January 29 to consider the petition for business rehabilitation.
Under JKN’s ownership, the Miss Universe pageant underwent changes to promote inclusivity. Notably, the competition allowed married women and mothers to participate, representing a departure from its traditional format. Additionally, the pageant marked a historic moment by featuring at least two transgender women for the first time, with Miss Portugal and Miss Netherlands breaking barriers in 2023.
The Miss Universe Organisation, once co-owned by former US president Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015, faced controversies during its ownership. Trump divested from the company in 2015 after two television partners opted out of broadcasting the pageant due to comments he made about illegal immigrants during his 2016 presidential campaign. The financial challenges leading to JKN Global’s bankruptcy filing underscore the difficulties faced by the Miss Universe pageant, despite its enduring popularity on a global scale.