After a childhood ‘trapped’ in a boy’s body, driven from school by bullies and being ‘sexually assaulted by a teacher’, Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip fought against the odds to turn her family’s failing video-rental business into a global media empire.
Transiting from male to female in her mid-30s, the trans billionaire’s latest venture has been taking ownership of Miss Universe, after 70 years of the international pageant being run by men.
The billionaire Thai media mogul bought the rights to Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA for $20million. The pageant system was previously owned by former US president Donald Trump.
Ms Jakrajutatip, who previously hosted a Thai version of Project Runway, promised to continue the pageant's legacy of women empowerment and 'evolve the brand for the next generation.'
Ms Jakrajutatip made history in October 2022 when she became the first woman to own the Miss Universe organisation after JKN Global Group, of which she is chief executive, purchased the pageant system.
However, Ms Jakrajutatip, 43, has been making her splash in the business world for quite some time.
The businesswoman, who has a more than seven million follower count on Instagram, went from working at a gas station to becoming the billionaire owner of a media and content conglomerate.
Her firm partnered with media giants like Walt Disney, CBS, and Sony, and also brought Korean, Chinese, and Indian productions to Thai TV.
She also appeared on the Thai version of Shark Tank and Project Runway.
The model-like CEO went from being bullied at her all-male school to becoming an activist icon in Thailand and establishing the Life Inspired for Transsexual Foundation (LIFT) charity, which advocates for transgender rights.
She has received several accolades, including winning the Asian Media Woman of the Year award in 2019, and was named on Forbes's list of richest transgenders in the world in 2020.
Here is what we know about Miss Universe's first woman owner...
Why did Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip buy Miss Universe?
Ms Jakrajutatip and JKN Global Group purchased the beauty pageant last year for $20million, according to a company announcement.
At the time of acquisition, she vowed to 'evolve' the pageant which - for much of its 70-year history - had been criticised as buttressing outmoded ideas of femininity.
'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,' she said in a statement last autumn.
Ms Jakrajutatip also characterised the purchase from Endeavor's IMG as a 'strong, strategic addition' to her company's portfolio and hoped it would boost Thailand's image abroad.
She added: 'I hope that this will serve as soft power for Thailand, and bring more tourists to our country.'
During the 72nd Miss Universe pageant on Saturday, Ms Jakrajutatip declared the world famous beauty pageant had entered a 'new era.'
She said: 'From now on it's gonna be run by women, owned by a trans woman, for all women around the world to celebrate the power of feminism.'
'It's the moment, really, for women to take the lead,' she added as the roaring audience gave a standing ovation.
She also grew up watching the pageant with her mother and grandmother, NOLA.com reported.
Ms Jakrajutatip described the pageant as the 'No. 1 beauty Olympics in the world' but added that the system is 'not just about beauty, it’s about the iconic woman — beauty, brains and leadership.'
How did she go from a gas station worker to CEO of a multi-billion dollar company?
The eldest of three siblings, Ms Jakrajutatip was born to a poor Thai-Chinese that owned a video rental store in Bangkok.
She is said to have had a 'tough' childhood growing up in Thailand and studying at an all-male school where she was bullied and sexually harassed because of her gender identity, The Manila Times reported.
Her parents reportedly did not provide her the support she needed while she was in school, forcing her to drop out and get a job at a gas station to support herself.
She later moved to Sydney, Australia where she studied international relations at Bond University and transitioned to a woman - despite her family's objections.
After graduation, Ms Jakrajutatip returned to Bangkok with the dream of starting her own company. She helped manage her family's video rental business while she worked towards establishing her own firm.
She earned a certificate in real estate development from Chulalongkorn University and a Director's Accreditation Program from the Thai Institute of Directors Association.
Her educational and business experiences ultimately led to the formation of JKN Global Group in 2013. The firm sold more than 50 products including beverages, cosmetics, health products and energy drinks.
JKN Global also dealt with content distribution, entertainment, events, television advertisement, and television programming. The company has distribution rights for foreign documentaries, TV dramas and reality television shows in Thailand.
Ms Jakrajutatip's background in video distribution and media licensing also paved the way for her to license and host the Thai version of Project Runway.
She has previously revealed that, as a child feeling like she was born in the wrong body, she was inspired by Oprah Winfrey to aspire to a career in the media.
The Guardian reports she wanted to become a chat show host after hearing Winfrey's story as a survivor of child abuse.
She said: 'In order to gain respect, you need to have success.'
How did Anne Jakrajutatip become a LGBTQ+ rights activist?
Ms Jakrajutatip said she first questioned why she was attending a male school when she was just five years old, knowing she was actually a girl.
'Every day, late at night, I would lock my bedroom door, put on my mother's make-up, look into the mirror and say that's the girl I want to become,' she told The Times of India in 2018.
She first started transitioning from man to woman at age 16 when she went to Sydney to pursue her bachelor's degree.
However, she didn't complete the transition process and was met with struggles when she returned home, aged 21.
Ms Jakrajutatip recalled how her mother threatened suicide when she saw her then-son wearing make-up and dressed in women's clothing.
She said her partial transition saw her family 'almost at war' and to 'maintain peace' she resumed acting like a male for 15 years 'until I couldn't do it anymore.'
She fled home at age 35 and - after ten reconstructive surgeries over three years and 'living like a mummy for months' - Ms Jakrajutatip finally completed her transition.
'I could finally be the girl I'd been seeing in the mirror for 36 years,' she recalled. 'I'm 100 percent woman now.'
Following her own transition and professional successes, Ms Jakrajutatip helped establish the Life Inspired For Transsexual Foundation which promotes trans rights.
After her purchase of Miss Universe last year, Ms Jakrajutatip was hailed by several LGBTQ+ organisations as a role model and an inspiration.
During the pageant last weekend, she described how being a transgender woman has affected her path in life.
'When I was born, as a trans woman, who got bullied and sexually harassed by my own teacher when I was young, plus I was not accepted by society because they did not want to embrace my differences,' she said.
'But guess what? I chose not to surrender.
'I turned pain into power. And I turned life lessons into wisdom.'
Does she have a family?
Ms Jakrajutatip is a mother to two children, Andrew and Angelica, both of whom were born via artificial insemination.
An American doctor collected her sperm before her sex reassignment surgery and it was later used fertilise eggs donated by a German woman, The Bangkok Post reported.
The process allowed Ms Jakrajutatip to fulfil her dream of becoming a 'biological parent.'
The businesswoman has also claimed to be in a relationship with her 'soulmate.' Internet speculation indicates she is dating a British man, however his identity is unknown.
Conan Daily reported that the pair met in 2013 and went on holiday in Bangkok with Ms Jakrajutatip's children and mother in December 2021, however there are no further details about the mystery man.
He is also not believed to be involved with the entertainment industry.
Ms Jakrajutatip was rumoured to be dating actor-model Clint Bondad but she denied those claims in 2019, saying on Instagram: 'No not my boyfriend. I already have my own soulmate.'
She claimed Mr Bondad was 'not my type' and allegedly viewed him as her 'brother.'
What is Anne Jakrajutatip's net worth?
Ms Jakrajutatip became a billionaire just 38 years old, one year before she completed her transition to womanhood.
'I became a billionaire at age 38, a woman at 39 and a mother of two at 40,' she told NOLA.com last week.
'This year we had $2.3 billion in revenue, and we just keep growing every year.'
Ms Jakrajutatip was the third richest transgender person in the world in 2020, according to Forbes.
Her net worth was an estimated $210million that year, also making her the Richest Transwoman of Asia.
Former Olympian and American TV personality Caitlyn Jenner was the fifth richest transgender person that year, with an estimated net worth of $100million.
Ms Jakrajutatip's Instagram account shows off her extravagant lifestyle which is complete with Aston Martin cars and private jets.
Her company, JKN Global Group, is also said to be a multi-billion dollar firm.