While the 2023 Miss Universe pageant, known for its inclusion transgender contestants, will still take place this Saturday, the JKN Global Group behind it filed for bankruptcy just days before the event.
Thai business tycoon and transgender activist Anne Jakrajutatip of the JKN Global Group bought the organization for $20,000,000 in 2022. Jakrajutatip, who has international fame as a transgender celebrity, described the purchase at the time as "a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio."
But a year later, the franchise itself appears unstable.
A public document sent to the Stock Exchange of Thailand from JKN Global Group declared "JKN Global Group Public Company Limited (the ‘Company’) has filed a petition for business rehabilitation with the Central Bankruptcy Court under the Bankruptcy Act B.E. 2483 (1940) (as amended) (the ‘Bankruptcy Act’) on November, 8 2023, the Central Bankruptcy Court has subsequently issued an order to accept the petition for business rehabilitation of the Company on November 9, 2023."
The Miss Universe Organization published a subsequent announcement declaring that amid "the current financial situation" that "We confirm that Miss Universe 2023 will be held in El Salvador on 18 November 2023, where a top notch experience provided to our fans will remain our top priorities." [sic]
This year’s Miss Universe pageant is slated to feature at least two transgender people who identify as women for the first time, Miss Portugal, a flight attendant named Marina Machete, and Rikkie Kollé, who is the first transgender Miss Netherlands. This follows Spain’s Ángela Ponce, who was the pageant’s first trans contestant overall in 2018, but did not advance to the finals.
Machete released a video in September lamenting that "rising levels of transphobia and intolerance are alarming worldwide." However, Machete declared it was "heartwarming" to see "that the Miss Universe organization is so inclusive, breaking boundaries and creating a platform for women not only to empower them but as well to create real changes in their own communities."
"Trans women are women, full stop," the Miss Universe Organization told CNN in October, following Miss Portugal’s crowning. "We are here to celebrate women, full stop. This has been true for more than a decade, and we’re proud to have made this change very early on, compared to other programs."
JKN Global group and the Miss Universe Organization have yet to respond to requests for comment from Fox News Digital.
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