The rumor that was swirling for weeks was finally confirmed when JKN Global Group announced that it bought the Miss Universe Organization for US$ 20 million late last month. Owned by Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib, JKN Global Group is based in Thailand with business interests in various countries. New owner means new things. There will be changes in the pageant for sure but what are these changes remains a mystery and now the pageant community is buzzing with gossips and conspiracy theories.
While it is true that it is too early to tell whether dramatic changes will eventually materialize, recent moves by the organization provided some interesting clues. Here are the possible things that we should expect now that Miss Universe is under a new owner:
- JKN Global Group will recoup its expenses – fast! Like Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase, buying Miss Universe carries a lot of financial risks. The price tag of US$ 20 million was quite hefty and Miss Universe, according to a New York Post report, is losing US$ 2 million annually. There are already signs that the new owner is aggressively trying to turn the pageant back into profitability. Even though the roster of candidates is not yet complete, fans can now purchase votes for US$ 1 for three votes up to US$ 200 for 1 000 votes. Whoever wins in the voting will get a place in the semis. Higher franchise fees and broadcast rights fees could be looming on the horizon. Let’s just hope that they will not cut their production budget or trim their workforce otherwise these will adversely affect the prestige of the pageant.
- Thailand will benefit immensely under the new owner. Although one risks of being accused of implying that JKN Global Group will be biased towards its home country, statistics don’t lie. The Big5 Ranking of Missosology created by Stephen Diaz accurately captured the irrefutable fact that the country where the pageant is based ranks disproportionally higher on that very pageant. For example, Japan ranks second at Miss International but it is just ranked 14th at Miss Universe. The trend is very clear: United States is ranked No. 1 at Miss Universe, United Kingdom is the 2nd placer at Miss World while the Philippines and Poland are leading at Miss Earth and Miss Supranational rankings respectively.
- Miss Universe will continue to lurch leftward. While many progressive policies are beneficial to the pageant, Miss Universe should consider the sentiments of the fans. An article was already written about this, warning that the pace of changes in the pageant is way too fast for the fans to keep up. [READ OPINION – Miss Universe is lurching further left and that’s dangerous] Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib, who is a transgender, will most likely continue the policies of Miss Universe that allows transgender, married women and women with children to compete. It is very possible that there will be a surge of transgender contestants and that there will be active encouragement from the organization to have more transgender participation.
Just recently, the Miss Universe Organization held a gala in Bangkok. It was attended by the current Miss Universe, Harnaaz Sandhu, as well as by former winners: 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. The message could be simple: yes, Miss Universe may be based in Bangkok but the new owners will still honor the past and the treasured traditions of the pageant.
Also present during the gala is Miss Universe President Paula Shugart as well as the CEO, Amy Emmerich. It looks like these two will keep their jobs – for now. With the old guards still at helm, drastic changes will be unlikely. This is good news for agitated fans who fear for the worst. Despite all the rumors and conspiracy theories, things will probably be same old same old.