Bui Simon

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Porntip Bui Simon
Beauty pageant titleholder
Born Porntip Nakhirunkanok
(1969-02-07) February 7, 1969 (age 48)
Bangkok, Thailand
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight 51.5 kg (114 lb)
Hair color Black
Eye color Brown
Title(s) Miss Thailand 1988
Miss Universe 1988
Miss Thailand 1988
Miss Universe 1988

Porntip Bui Simon (née Nakhirunkanok; Thai: ภรณ์ทิพย์ นาคหิรัญกนก, rtgsPhonthip Nakhirankanok, pronounced [pʰɔ̄ːn.tʰíp nâːk.hì.rān.kā.nòk]; born February 7, 1968 in Bangkok, Thailand) is a Thai actress and beauty queen who has held the title Miss Universe 1988. She became the second woman from Thailand to win the Miss Universe crown, the first being Apasra Hongsakula in 1965. Simon is a philanthropist and founder of the Angels Wings Foundation. She also is on the Board of Governors for the Dream Foundation, the Board of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis as a Distinguished Advisor, and on the Board of Regents of Pepperdine University.


Porntip Nakhirunkanok was born in Chachoengsao, Thailand. Her nickname was "Bui" (Thai: ปุ๋ย, rtgsPui, pronounced [pǔj]), which is now one of her legal names. It means "to sleep like a baby" in Thai. In the early 70's, she was brought to the United States by her family. She is the first daughter of Sornglin Nakhirunkanok. She had a younger sister who had died in 2005. In August 1988, Nakhirunkanok was presented the Thai Royal Medal of Honour, Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant, by King Bhumibol Adulyadej for her service in helping needy children. She received a second Royal Decoration in 2001, Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand.

In 1988, she was named United Nations Goodwill Ambassador of Thailand by Air Chief Marshal Siddhi Savetsila, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand. She graduated with a bachelor's degree psychology from Pepperdine University.[1]

In 2002, she married Herbert Simon, an American businessman who is the owner of the Indiana Pacers basketball team and Simon Property Group. The couple was married by Queen Sirkit of Thailand in the Royal Summer Palace. They have a son and a daughter. In addition, she also has been taking care of her deceased sister's three children along with her own children.

She is also well known in Thailand for her charity work, especially her effort to help the victims of the 2004 tsunami where she built 100 new homes, a fleet of boats and new schools. Her Charity is known as Angels Wings Foundation In 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, as founder of Angel Wings Foundation, Simon donated funds to support the Thammasat Alumni Associations’s Thai/American scholarship program that enables American students of Thai descent to study abroad. For many it was their first chance to see their mother country.

In December 2008, the Bui Simon Thai Endowed Scholarship Fund was established to help Thai students who wish to come to the United States and study as undergraduate students at Pepperdine University. In July 1, 2010, she was elected to Pepperdine University Regents and was quoted saying “I am really honored by the opportunity to serve the faculty and students of my alma mater. My foundation believes that every child is an angel and deserves wings to fly to their fullest ability. I look forward to extending this principle to the student body at Pepperdine as I work with the regents to further the educational goals of the university.”

In 2011, Simon accepted a seat on the Board of Governors for the Dream Foundation, a profoundly compassionate organization that grants wishes to terminally ill patients.

In 2013, Simon was elected to serve as a Founding Board Memberfor the Children's Museum of Santa Barbara. The Children’s Museum will pride itself on inspiring children and families around the world through a unique environment of national initiatives designed to boost student achievement in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (S.T.E.A.M.).

In 2014, Simon helped launch the Teach for Thailand initiative to strengthen the core subjects of English, math, and science in public schools and opened the Nongkung School in Ubolrajatanee Province, one of many schools Angels Wings Founder Simon has opened in the rural provinces of Thailand.



In 1984, Simon joined the first Thai beauty pageant called "Tida Dome" held by the alumni of Thammasat University (Thailand). At that pageant she placed as first runner-up.

She participated in the 1988 Miss Thailand pageant held in Bangkok where she won and had the right to represent Thailand at the Miss Universe pageant.

At age of 20, Simon was crowned as Miss Universe 1988 by outgoing titleholder Cecilia Bolocco on May 24, 1988 in Taipei, Taiwan. She entered the semi-finals in fourth place, right behind USA, Dominican Republic, and Korea. She impressed the judges so much during the interview portion that she swept the competition, becoming the clear winner of the evening. She received the interview score of 9.730, swimsuit score of 9.684 and 9.752 for evening gown respectively. She also became the first woman ever to win both the Miss Universe and Best National Costume award in one pageant.

The 1988 pageant is notable for the fact that four of the top 5 finalists all hailed from the Far East, with Porntip as the winner, Korea (Jang Yoon-jeong) in second, Mexico (Amanda Olivares) in third, Japan (Mizuho Sakaguchi) in fourth, and Hong Kong (Pauline Yeung Bo-Ling) in fifth. The rest of the top 10 were Patricia Jimenez from the Dominican Republic, Yajaira Vera-Roldan of Venezuela, Courtney Gibbs of USA, Diana Patricia Arevalo of Colombia, and Bente Brunland of Norway.


Simon co-hosted a national costume competition in the Miss Universe 1992 pageant held in Bangkok, Thailand. The award was won by Miss Paraguay Pamela Zarza.


In May 2005, Simon returned to the Miss Universe pageant as one of the telecast judges.

She was chosen as one of the judges for preliminary competitions in the 2006 Miss Universe pageant held in Los Angeles, California.

Angel Wings Foundation International[edit]

Simon founded the Angels Wings Foundation in 2002 with its mission to build and fund schools and orphanages and supply healthcare and other support for underprivileged children in Thailand.

Angels Wings Rural Teaching Scholarship was created to provide scholarships to Thai college students who committed to teaching in Thailand’s rural areas after their schooling is complete.

After the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, Angels Wings built 100 new homes, a fleet of boats and new schools and participated in efforts to rebuild orphanages and playgrounds for children of the affected communities.

Post Pageants[edit]

  • Simon founded her own children’s foundation
  • Completed her term as United Nations Goodwill Ambassador of Thailand
  • Simon was lead anchor and co-producer on the highly regarded television news program "60 Minutes II in Thailand".
  • Simon was a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in 1989.
  • Simon was the spokesperson for Pepsi, Colgate, Revlon and Sunsilk in Thailand.
  • She accompanied the Thai athletes during the Opening Ceremony of the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul, South Korea.
  • She led the Thai delegates during the 1998 Opening Ceremony of the XIII Asian Games held in Bangkok, Thailand


External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Chutima Naiyana
Miss Thailand
Succeeded by
Yonlada Ronghanam
Preceded by
Chile Cecilia Bolocco
Miss Universe
Succeeded by
Netherlands Angela Visser