After more than 23 years helming one of the most prestigious pageants in the world, Miss Universe president Paula Shugart is stepping down.
The announcement was made in the middle of the finals night of the Miss Universe 2023 pageant held in El Salvador last November 19.
“I gave you my word that we would work together to create a great event. I promised you; I will personally use my years of experience to bring the message of the new El Salvador to the world,” Shugart said in a message aired after the pageant’s national costume competition.
"Saturday will be a culmination and a celebration of this partnership. And it does not get better than this. I can think of no better place than in this beautiful country on this magnificent stage to announce the end of my tenure as president of Miss Universe," she added.
The cheers in the arena quickly shifted in shock as pageant fans did not expect the sudden announcement.
However, Shugart clarified that her decision doesn’t have any connection to the current financial battle of JKN Global Group, the new owner of the Miss Universe Organization.
"I have decided this Saturday will be my last show, and to be clear, this decision has been months in the making, and it is not in response to recent events," she said.
On the other hand, JKN Global Group clarified that they did not file for bankruptcy but rather a “Business Rehabilitation Program” to preserve the business and has vowed full dedication to repaying the creditors and investors.
“Miss Universe Organization, which is only one of our many business lines, is completely clean and will continue to operate as planned. We look forward to three fantastic broadcasts next week," JKN Global Group founder Anne Jakrajutatip said in a social media post.
"I stayed because of my belief in El Salvador and love for the Miss Universe brand. I have always passionately believed Miss Universe is not about any one woman. It's about community, our community. It's about the passionate fans, the title holders, and the national directors who have remained dedicated to this brand through thick and thin. Because of them, the Miss Universe brand is strong and will remain resilient," Paula added.
Miss Universe has undergone a transformation towards inclusivity among women.
“Over 20 years ago, I took over as president during another turbulent time for this company, and it was this community who guided me every step of the way. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished. We taught women the true beauty is based in confidence and using your voice. We expanded our global reach and focused on telling the stories of all these incredible women. We worked hard to change the rules to be more inclusive. 12 years ago, we became the first major brand to open our doors to transgender women, and this year we changed to rules to allow married women and mothers to compete, and for the first time in our history, we have two mothers competing on this stage,” she said.
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