Miss Universe pageant to go ahead despite bankruptcy filing by owner

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip's company JKN Global Group took over the competition last year but is struggling with debt

Thai businesswoman Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip bought the global beauty contest for $20 million last year. AFP
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The company behind the Miss Universe pageant has filed for bankruptcy, one week before the beauty contest's main event.

JKN Global Group, which bought the competition for $20 million last year, missed a September repayment deadline and submitted the filing to courts in Thailand, where the company is based.

However, it announced the pageant will go ahead next Saturday. Reigning Miss Universe R'Bonney Gabriel from the US will crown her successor from a pool of 86 women.

A statement on the JKN Global Group website says the event in El Salvador will provide a "top-notch" experience for fans.

“We reaffirm that the legacy of Miss Universe will be carried on by JKN Global Group as envisioned from the beginning," it adds.

"We look forward to welcoming our delegates and fans in El Salvador as well as through our broadcasting partners.”

The company is now understood to be looking to restructure its debt.

The Thai media and content company bought the Miss Universe Organisation, making chief executive Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip the first woman to own the competition during its 70-year history.

Since she has taken over, several changes have been made to the competition.

This includes allowing married women and mothers to complete. Previously, only single women, aged between 18 and 28, who have never been married or had children were allowed to apply. Maria Camila Avella Montanez of Colombia and Michelle Cohn of Guatemala are the first Miss Universe contestants in this category.

Miss Universe has changed ownership several times since the first pageant was held in 1952. Former US president Donald Trump bought it in 1996 and sold it to global events and talent company IMG in 2015, following a backlash against his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants.

Updated: November 11, 2023, 11:43 AM