Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu joined by former winners and new owner at Thailand gala

The Bangkok event was held to celebrate the pageant's acquisition by Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip

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Four former Miss Universe title-holders joined reigning queen, India's Harnaaz Sandhu, to celebrate the beauty pageant's new owner Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip at an event in Bangkok on Monday.

Jakrajutatip, chief executive of Thai media and content company JKN Global Group, acquired the Miss Universe Organisation from IMG, making her the first woman to own the company in its 70-year history.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the Miss Universe event in Bangkok

Miss Universe 2005 Natalie Glebova of Canada, Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes of Angola, Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza of Mexico and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray of the Philippines shared the stage with Miss Universe 2021 Sandhu and Jakrajutatip at the gala event at the Siam Pavalai Royal Grand Theatre.

Reigning Miss Universe Thailand Anna Sueangam-iam and Miss Universe Spain 2018 Angela Ponce were also at the event along with Miss Universe president Paula Shugart and chief executive Amy Emmerich.

Following its acquisition of the pageant, JKN, which owns a portfolio of broadcast and media titles, said the deal will build on the contest's legacy and further its commitment to inclusivity. There are also plans to expand the Miss Universe brand, including the launch of MU Lifestyle, a new licensing and merchandising arm.

"We are incredibly honoured to be acquiring the Miss Universe Organisation and working with its visionary leadership team," Jakrajutatip said. "We seek not only to continue its legacy of providing a platform to passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation."

Miss Universe made history in August when it announced it was making one of the biggest changes to its selection process. Starting next year, the annual competition will accept married women and mothers. Previously, only single women, aged between 18 and 28, who have never been married or had children were allowed to apply.

The new rules will not be in place for the 71st Miss Universe, which has been postponed to January 14, as preliminary pageants have already taken place. New Orleans will host the event.

“There is no place like New Orleans. This vibrant city has been at the top of our list to host for quite some time due to its rich cultural history, as well as its unique arts, entertainment, and culinary scene,” said Shugart. “I look forward to our delegates from all over the world getting to experience all it has to offer."

The new date also means two Miss Universe pageants are likely to be held next year — the first in January to crown the 2022 winner and the second one later in the year to crown Miss Universe 2023.

The announcement also effectively extends the reign of current Miss Universe Sandhu. But the longest-reigning Miss Universe is Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa, who won the tile in 2019.

Tunzi held her title for 525 days after the 2020 pageant was cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. She crowned her successor Andrea Meza from Mexico in May 2021, in turn making Meza's the shortest reign in history. Meza passed on her crown to Sandhu at a pageant in Israel in December last year after only 211 days.

The number of countries participating in the pageant changes every year. At the Miss Universe 2021 pageant, 80 countries took part, including first-time contestant Miss Universe Bahrain Manar Nadeem Deyani.

For Miss Universe 2022, organisers are expecting close to 90 countries to participate. A final number will be revealed before the pageant.

Scroll through the gallery below for all the Miss Universe 2022 contestants crowned so far

Updated: November 10, 2022, 9:54 AM