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Paula Shugart considering legal action against Miss Universe owner Anne Jakrajutatip: 'I cannot abide by such dangerous and reckless assertions'

By Camille Santiago Published Feb 19, 2024 1:38 pm

Former Miss Universe president Paula Shugart is considering suing the organization's new owner, Anne Jakrajutatip, for "impugning [her] character."

Shugart, who resigned from her position in November last year, took to social media to speak out against Jakrajutatip's accusations.

She said she sought to "stay out of the spotlight" and chose not to "comment on any of the changes within the Miss Universe Organization." Instead, she opted to "quietly help" the organization only when requested.

But Shugart said that Jakrajutatip's recent comments against her, claiming she took bribes to secure placements in the competition, have forced her to speak out.

"However, recent false and outrageous comments made by Miss Universe owner Anne Jakrajutatip impugning my character have compelled me to break my silence," she said.

She continued: "Normally, I would choose to ignore such assertions but, by suggesting that I am corrupt and took money 'under the table' to secure placements in Miss Universe competitions, Jakrajutatip not only defames me, but she also discredits the women who have won the Miss Universe crown by implying their titles were 'bought' and not earned by merit."

She added that "such dangerous and reckless assertions" degrade the whole brand and its titleholders. Because of this, Shugart is looking into filing a case against the new owner.

"I am presently considering my legal options in Thailand and what actions I might take. However, given that my complaint will be just one of many legal actions currently facing the owner of JKN, it is imperative for the Miss Universe brand and its legacy that I immediately speak the truth and condemn these words before taking any action in Thai courts and I am reserving all rights to claim for damages," she said.

"I have no intention or need to engage in drama on social media and I will not do so. Anyone who knows me knows the truth and what I stand for. I will let my years of work with some truly incredible women speak for itself," Shugart continued.

Queens unite

In the comments section, former titleholders expressed their support for Shugart, with Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee liking the post.

Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete said she had the "pleasure" to be Miss Universe under her guidance. "You built a golden era that is already in the history of the contests all around the world, and you shine like no one else for that."

"Those of us who know you and your work, only can say the facts, evidence and the truth, and your work has always been clean," she continued.

Lupita Jones, who was crowned in 1991, called her a "professional and a lady." "The truth always [shines], and your light bothers the darkness," she said.

Miss Universe USA 2014 representative Nia Sanchez called Shugart a "woman of integrity" and said she considers herself "lucky to have been under your leadership."

Miss Universe 1997 Brook Lee, known for her iconic Q&A answer, also affirmed that Shugart has always been supportive of every candidate.

"Everyone who KNOWS what you have done for each and every title holder both under your tutelage and those of us that were before your tenure to show up and support ALL women, and make sure every title holder as unique and different as we all are have a platform and a voice and DIGNITY to achieve our goals. We love you, we stand with you, and YOUR legacy is untouchable," Lee wrote.

'Eliminate corruption'

This comes after Jakrajutatip in a series of tweets last Feb. 9, emphasized the importance of transparency and fairness in business practices, calling out "corruption" and "behind-the-scenes actions" as harmful.

"There must be art in inviting out....there is a moment where we know when it's appropriate and how it resonates with us. Minimal universe….clean for transparency!!! 'Eliminate corruption' completely…eliminate evil…eliminate words that are not constructive….and eliminate behind-the-scenes actions to destroy owners caused by jealousy," Jakrajutatip wrote on X, as translated on Google.

While she didn't name anyone, the Thai business owner said that an organization that has allowed "one woman" to do "her own thing for 25 years" is "very dangerous."

"A corporate culture that has allowed one woman to do her own thing for 25 years is very dangerous for her to be able to do whatever she wants…under the table, anywhere. can f--k anyone...when the real owner comes, who is a transgender woman from a country that you consider to be developing. It's hard for me to accept calling the new owner 'boss.'"

"Do whatever you want for 25 years, thinking that this universe is yours….It's hard to come to terms with calling the new owner 'boss'...I can't accept that I won't be able to receive any benefits from anyone easily again," she claimed.

Shugart joined MUO in 1998 as the vice president of production and was appointed president three years later. She has handled the entire business operations and spearheaded the production of the annual live global telecast.

In November 2023, she announced her resignation after the preliminary competition of the 72nd Miss Universe pageant held in El Salvador.

She said: "If I can leave you with anything, what I have learned as president, is there is a critical difference between declaring the words transformational leadership and being a real transformational leader.

"Transformational leadership is not about one person. It can, and it must be, about putting the needs of the team above all else in creating a vision for the future. It can and it must be empathetic beyond self-interest. It can and it must be committed to building confidence through inspiration and teamwork, not insecurity and chaos. It can and it must be about motivation, not denigration.

"And above all, it must be about honesty, respect, integrity, and living by your word. One cannot just talk the talk, one must walk the walk," Shugart said.

Amy Emmerich, the CEO of MUO, also resigned last Feb. 8, 2024 after two years in the position.