Every winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, ranked
Every winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, ranked
Across 10 years and 131 episodes, RuPaul's Drag Race has whittled 126 contestants down to 13 fabulous champions — each of whom have sashayed the legacy of queer artists into the mainstream spotlight in their own right. From Aquaria's budding legacy and Raja's avant-garde aesthetic to Sasha Velour's drag activism, each victor represents the diversity of talent synonymous with the brand. Now, using their post-show impact and their performance in the competition as criteria, EW has ranked every winner in Drag Race her-story. Click through the gallery ahead to see where your favorites landed.
13. Tyra Sanchez (season 2)
It’s difficult to deny Sanchez’s talents as a drag queen—at least the way she presented them across the show's second season. Back when RuPaul’s Drag Race was still a fledgling, niche program finding its way through the pop cultural landscape, Sanchez appeared to have the perfect blend of hard-edged candor and show-stopping, glamourous sensibilities to make a wider audience take note. Unfortunately in recent months Sanchez has all but squandered the opportunity she was given, and has since become a pariah among Drag Race fans for her controversial behavior. She seemingly called for violence against her fellow series alums on social media, and was reportedly investigated by the FBI and banned from DragCon for making threatening posts ahead of the 2018 event. In the end, Sanchez might have sashayed away with the season 2 crown over fan-favorite Raven, but her reign has been anything but peaceful — or flattering to the Drag Race brand — in the aftermath.
12. BeBe Zahara Benet (season 1)
Again, OG champion BeBe Zahara Benet's 11th-place finish isn't meant as a dig at her impeccable grace, diva-sized personality, or any of the other irresistible elements that carried her across the first Drag Race finish line back in 2009. The only problem is the relative brevity of her original season's run, meaning less Benet to go around as the show skyrocketed in popularity and all but eclipsed season 1's shine in subsequent years. Thankfully, RuPaul made the right decision to cast her on this year's All-Stars 3, repositioning her for contemporary audiences. But as far as her reach as America's Drag Superstar goes, Benet still has a long way to go to catch up to her sisters, and it's not entirely her fault. Drag Race rose to prominence after she'd been crowned, with the original season even being affectionately referred to as "The Lost Season" by Mama Ru. In the end, Benet got her footing on the right stage at the wrong time, but All-Stars 3 reintroduced her to a new audience. Here's to getting to see more of what she can milk out of the original title now that Lady Camerooooooon is on equal ground.
11. Chad Michaels (All-Stars 1)
When it comes to picturing a good, old-fashioned drag queen, someone like Chad Michaels immediately comes to mind — at least on the surface. But once you peel back the 47-year-old's layers, you find an old soul with the chutzpah of fellow competitors half her age. She made a name for herself among the Drag Race clan thanks to her impeccable Cher impersonation, but her legacy carries on thanks to her ability to transcend the realm of mimicry and make each performance — as Cher or otherwise — unique to herself.
10. Aquaria (season 10)
She's only had the Drag Race crown for a matter of days, so it's still a bit difficult to gauge how Aquaria's post-show career will pan out. She's the youngest winner in the history of the show, and took the title after clearly trumping her season 10 sisters in nearly every runway challenge (followed by two epic lip-synchs during the finale). She's proven her chops in the couture department by introducing some of the most cutting-edge looks Drag Race has ever seen, and even won Snatch Game (something no one saw coming) with her skills as an improv performer. She’s as well-rounded and committed to her craft as many of the Drag Race winners that have come before her. Plus, she has her finger on the pulse of fashion and is tapped into queer youth culture, as many of her fans are teens and young people who see a great deal of themselves in Aquaria’s success story. Ru likely wanted to crown a queen who can not only hold her own against seasoned veterans of the global drag stage but also mold something new from the slice of fame she’s carved out during her time on the show, and Aquaria could be that girl. Her technical talents are undeniable, innovative, relevant, and vitally forward thinking for a show that so desperately wants to break out of the realm of niche appeal, and she could rightly help push drag into the future for the next generation. But, only one week out from the season 10 finale, Aquaria's true legacy has yet to be written, but her ability to unite fans both young and old across the Drag Race spectrum is a promising teaser or what's in store throughout the age of Aquaria ahead.
9. Bob the Drag Queen (season 8)
Bob might be in the middle on this list, but you know that purse always comes first, honey. She marched into the season 8 fold much like Bianca Del Rio did on season 6: as a clear champion effortlessly strutting her talent as she patiently awaited the inevitable crown. Early on, Bob connected with Ru and the audience with her comedic skills as well as her infectious personality, winning three challenges and the title (as well as the hearts of the Drag Race nation in the process).
8. Jinkx Monsoon (season 5)
A relatable success story for every theater nerd who thought they'd never find their place in the world, season 5 victor Jinkx Monsoon brought a distinct flair to Drag Race unlike anything the show had seen before. Never one to conform to expectations, Monsoon proudly blazed a trail via her distinct blend of divine old-school inspirations with DIY authenticity, creating an aesthetic that was at once refreshing and new yet altogether accessible.
7. Sasha Velour (season 9)
Many of the queens on RuPaul's Drag Race talk about affecting social change through their art, but Sasha Velour puts her money where her slicked lips are. She tackled her post-show career with the idea that "drag is a form of activism," and subsequently used her platform to highlight the talents of lesser-known drag queens that don't have the luxury of the spotlight on national TV. From the stages of Nightgowns — her monthly variety showcase of underground talent from around the world — to her self-published zine Velour, which features writing and art pieces from a wide range of perspectives, the season 9 champion uses her voice to lift up other queer artists at a time when visiblity is of utmost importance. And she's a vital piece of the Drag Race family for reaching outside the tribe to share the glory with others as a prime shepherd of community sisterhood.
6. Violet Chachki (season 7)
After Sanchez, it gets *really* hard to rank these girls. And by no means does a low placement on this list indicate that there's anything wrong with Chachki's creative output. She introduced several iconic looks into the Drag Race canon across season 7 (don't even get us started on that couture reveal) and, since her victory, she has worked fashion-forward runway shows (Moschino, anyone?) and music videos for others (peep Allie X's fierce "All the Rage" visual) as well as fronting eye-popping clips for songs of her own — all while balancing a career as a lingerie model and a burlesque dancer. Her post-show career represents the diversity of a superstar, but judging solely on Chachki's Drag Race performance, her overall attitude was somewhat off-putting, and never rubbed us quite the way her post-show accomplishments have.
5. Sharon Needles (season 4)
Drag Race's resident queen of macabre marvels introduced the show's budding fandom to a fresh approach to the craft after three seasons filled with more conventionally appealing (but no less exciting) ladies. But Needles' appeal stretched beyond her ability to turn every runway into a haunted house of haute couture: as her performance as Michelle Visage during Snatch Game proved, Needles has the acting skills (and comedic mastery) to hold her own against some of the show's most formidable comediennes. And she's got the staying power to back it up, having released Billboard-charting music and appearing on several non-Drag Race TV shows (Watch What Happens Live, Good Behavior) since taking the crown.
4. Raja (season 3)
Raja stepped into the Werk Room with a small dose of fame already coursing through her veins (fans of America's Next Top Model will remember her as Sutan, the adorably sassy makeup artist who worked on the show between 2005 and 2009), but she took RuPaul's Drag Race to the next level as the show's third — and, up to that point, most accomplished — champion. Each week, she delivered mind-blowing look after mind-blowing look, and has since blossomed into one of the show's most beloved winners thanks to her frankness (her recap series on YouTube, Fashion Photo RuView, is a fine showcase for this) and bold honesty (she was serving piping hot reads to Drag Race girls on social media long before Bianca Del Rio came into the fold). She's also a savvy writer, often enlightening her Facebook followers with brilliantly candid essays, all while cranking out dance-pop singles on her own terms (and appearing in fashion campaigns plus a Blondie music video) since taking the title.
3. Alaska Thunderf—ck (All-Stars 2)
Alaska entered the competition in the shadow of her former lover, season 4 winner Sharon Needles. At every turn, Alaska faced comparisons to her ex-companion, but she emerged unscathed as arguably the funniest queen to ever grace the Drag Race stage. She didn't take the season 5 title, but she earned her rightful place atop the throne on the second edition of All-Stars three years later. And she roared back with a vengeance, stepping up her runway game with a refined mix of camp and glamour missing from her earlier work. She has since gone on to star in other reality shows (she was the highlight of VH1's spectacularly ridiculous Scared Famous), release a few iconic singles (hello, "Your Makeup Is Terrible"), and even landed a role in the final Sharknado film set for release later this year. As her post-show career reflects, Alaska is a refreshing mix of street and elite — and the crown jewel of All-Stars champions to date.
2. Trixie Mattel (All-Stars 3)
Miss Mattel certainly didn't have the best track record across the third All-Stars edition of Drag Race (she won two challenges but was never singled out for owning a lip-synch for her legacy), but RuPaul clearly valued her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent on display outside the confines of the show enough to crown her the season's champion anyway. And it's easy to see why. Though she was eliminated prematurely on her original season, Mattel has since grown her personal brand to the size of Lady Bunny's wig: she has released two successful albums, a sold-out worldwide tour, and even fronts her own popular talk show, The Trixie & Katya Show, on Viceland. In turn, the comedy queen has become a flattering model of Drag Race excellence (and a royal among fans and alums alike) that's helped shape the identity of the show in pop culture at large as one of the most celebrated personalities the show has ever seen.
1. Bianca Del Rio (season 6)
When someone mentions RuPaul’s Drag Race, you think of the wigs, the lewks, or maybe Snatch Game drama or the shady reads spewed with love and affection each time Mama Ru opens the library — but some personalities are big enough to break through the superficial mold of expectation with a unique mastery of all the talents Drag Race asks of its contestants (and more). From the moment she clicked her stilettos into the Werk Room for the first time, it was clear season 6 champion Bianca Del Rio had the confidence and talent to push her through to the end of the competition. Quick on her feet, witty, and classically glamorous (for a painted circus clown, that is), Del Rio embodies everything the Drag Race brand is, and her post-show success has only proven she was the right choice for this show's audience. Several sold-out stand-up comedy tours, two Hurricane Bianca movies centered around her, and one book from a major publisher later, Bianca Del Rio hasn't just carried the Drag Race torch, she's proudly burning a new one all on her own.