Most angiosperms bear hermaphroditic flowers, but a few species have evolved outcrossing strategies, such as dioecy, the presence of separate male and female individuals. We previously investigated the mechanisms underlying dioecy in diploid persimmon (D. lotus) and found that male flowers are specified by repression of the autosomal gene MeGI by its paralog, the Y-encoded pseudo-gene OGI. This mechanism is thought to be lineage-specific, but its evolutionary path remains unknown. Here, we developed a full draft of the diploid persimmon genome (D. lotus), which revealed a lineage-specific genome-wide paleoduplication event. Together with a subsequent persimmon-specific duplication(s), these events resulted in the presence of three paralogs, MeGI, OGI and newly identified Sister of MeGI (SiMeGI), from the single original gene. Evolutionary analysis suggested that MeGI underwent adaptive evolution after the paleoduplication event. Transformation of tobacco plants with MeGI and SiMeGI revealed that MeGI specifically acquired a new function as a repressor of male organ development, while SiMeGI presumably maintained the original function. Later, local duplication spawned MeGI’s regulator OGI, completing the path leading to dioecy. These findings exemplify how duplication events can provide flexible genetic material available to help respond to varying environments and provide interesting parallels for our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the transition into dieocy in plants.