×

Miss Universe Owner, Transgender Businesswoman Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip Shares Empowering Message on Inclusion, Equality & the Pageant’s ‘Transformation’

The Miss Universe pageant represents more than international beauty. Considered an outdated pageant by some critics, the pageant owner Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a transgender businesswoman who purchased the organization for $20,000,000 last year, took to the stage tonight in New Orleans to share its new direction — a focus on female leaders who support philanthropic causes, and  advocate for inclusion and diversity. The messages were emphasized throughout the pageant, including the swimsuit competition with customized capes emblazoned with verbiage and illustrations in support of LGBTQ equality, environmental protection and women’s empowerment.

“I was not accepted by society because they did not want to embrace my differences,” Jakrajutatip said tonight onstage in New Orleans, Louisiana, referring to her identity as a transwoman. “I chose not to surrender. I turned pain into power and turned life lessons into wisdom. On this stage called the Miss Universe competition, we can elevate our women to feel strong enough, good enough and qualified enough and never be objectified again.”

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, the new owner of the Miss Universe Organization, speaks onstage to present the ImpactWayv Challenge Award during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, the new owner of the Miss Universe Organization, speaks onstage to present the ImpactWayv Challenge Award during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.
CREDIT: AP

She promised under her helm, the pageant will have the “transformational leadership in order to enhance the organization’s longstanding heritage.” Mothers and married women are now allowed to compete.

In another show of visibility for under-represented communities, gender noncomforming musician Big Freedia served as judge and performer.

The Thai entrepreneur owns JKN Global Group Public Limited, Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, CNBC Thailand and JKN18 TV.

RELATED: Miss Thailand Anna Sueangam-Iam Shimmers in Dress Made of Soda Pull-Can Tabs & Heels for Miss Universe 2023 Evening Gown Preliminary

Jakrajutatip wore an embellished ivory dress with rhinestones, sequins and a delicate cape. She completed the look with mirrored gold platform heels.

The pageant owner presented Miss Thailand Anna Sueangam-iam with the ImpactWayy Leadership Award, which is a fan-voted social media competition.

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, new owner of the Miss Universe Organization, presents the ImpactWayv Challenge Award to Miss Thailand Anna Sueangam-iam during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, left, new owner of the Miss Universe Organization, presents the ImpactWayv Challenge Award to Miss Thailand Anna Sueangam-iam during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.
CREDIT: AP

Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel was named Miss Universe 2023, Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel was named first runner-up and Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez was the second runner-up.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 14: Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel Miss USA R'bonney Gabriel and Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez speak during The 71st Miss Universe Competition at New Orleans Morial Convention Center on January 14, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
(L-R): Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel Miss USA R’bonney Gabriel and Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez speak during The 71st Miss Universe Competition at New Orleans Morial Convention Center on January 14, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
CREDIT: Getty Images

The 2023 Miss Universe pageant celebrates international beauty, as well as a range of humanitarian causes from its contestants. Held on Jan. 14 in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event calls upon contestants from more than 80 countries to compete for this year’s crown: a diamond and blue sapphire creation by Mouawad Jewelry, titled “Force for Good.” The crown will be bestowed upon the 2023 winner by the 2022 Miss Universe winner Harnaaz Sandhu of India.

PHOTOS: Miss Universe 2023 Evening Gowns & Heels: See All the Contestants

Access exclusive content