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Miss Direction: Anne Jakrajutatip, new owner of Miss Universe, ignites controversies with new rules

By Ratziel San Juan Published Feb 22, 2023 8:28 pm Updated Feb 23, 2023 5:13 pm

Miss Universe Organization owner Anne Jakrajutatip is raising eyebrows in the pageant community with her policies as the new franchise owner.

The Thai-billionaire, as chief executive officer and biggest shareholder of JKN Global Group, acquired the international pageant organizer from IMG in October 2022.

Previously, the Miss Universe owner was praised for moves such as allowing mothers and married women to compete in the prestigious beauty competition. Pageant fans, however, say that Anne has just taken one step forward and two steps backward.

Here are recent measures employed by the Miss Universe Organization or by Anne directly that have been drawing flak from the pageant community.

There can be only one

Anne has prohibited Miss Universe franchise holders from sending candidates to other international pageants. This development is particularly controversial for some franchisees that send their Miss Universe titleholders to various pageants not affiliated with Miss Universe.

The Philippines, for example, used to crown its Miss Universe titleholders under Binibining Pilipinas from 1964 to 2018. During those 54 years and until today, Binibining Pilipinas titleholders are sent to their respective international pageants—Miss International, Miss Grand International, Miss Globe, and Miss Intercontinental—to represent the country. That changed, however, when the Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) Organization took over the franchise in 2019, wherein queens work exclusively as the pageant's brand ambassadors with no cross-overs.

Among the countries that likewise send their titleholders to other international pageants is South Africa, whose winners compete in Miss Universe, Miss World, and Miss Supranational.

Anne explained, "We (Miss Universe Organization) prefer to have just one stage for one beauty pageant brand. No other brands must be involved. Cannot be involved on the same stage. The winner goes to Miss Universe, the first runner-up you go to this, the second runner-up you go to that. I respect the work in the past 20-30 years. I admire what you have done. But this is the principle of the company, of the organization, that we must gain the respect. And we must be the first priority."

Apart from Miss Universe, MUPH will have two other titles in this year's competition which the organization will announce soon. PhilSTAR L!fe has since reached out to MUPH for comment, however, the organization maintained that it has not received any official memo from the Miss Universe Organization regarding how the new rule will be implemented. It will thus only make an "an informed, accurate response" once they have all the details when the specific guidelines are issued.

Maybe we got lost in translation

The Miss Universe Organization debuted a rule requiring organizations that wish to host Miss Universe competitions and send representatives to submit an annual bid. “In the application, you will be asked for your highest bid for the opportunity to hold the Miss Universe license. Please be advised that proposed license fees deemed not aligned with the market value in your region will be rejected," the Miss Universe Organization said in a statement.

This immediately backfired, with at least four national organizations departing from the annual pageant. These include decades-long participant Puteri Indonesia, Miss Universe Ghana, Miss Universe Seychelles, and Miss Universe Mauritius organizations.

Anne soon responded to these very public pullouts with her personal statement: "Seems something got lost in translation and information. The request of submission was meant to give voice and agency to the current directors. A way that they can speak truth to what they believe their business is worth. I saw some fake news, drama swirling plus some funny comments and doubt that how can someone criticize on something without getting the right info or interviewing anyone in the organization."

Ed's note: This article has been updated to add response from the Miss Universe Philippines organization.