Every winner of RuPaul's Drag Race
Which queen has the biggest charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent?
Queens who werked for their coronation
Across 12 years and 161 episodes, RuPaul's Drag Race has whittled hundreds of contestants down to a lucky few, fabulous champions — each of whom have strutted the legacy of queer artists into the mainstream spotlight around the world in their own right. From Jaida Essence Hall's budding legacy and Raja's avant-garde aesthetic to Sasha Velour's drag activism and Priyanka's sashay around the global runway, each victor represents the diversity of talent synonymous with the brand. A stroll down the runway with the winners, ahead.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 1: BeBe Zahara Benet
OG champion BeBe Zahara Benet had all the essential 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 2018'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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 2: Tyra Sanchez
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, glamorous sensibilities to make a wider audience take note. Unfortunately, Sanchez 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. Still, Sanchez has since apologized, and has rebranded as an artist under her "boy" name, leaving a career in drag behind.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 3: Raja
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 4: Sharon Needles
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 5: Jinkx Monsoon
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6: Bianca Del Rio
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 7: Violet Chachki
Chachki 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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 8: Bob the Drag Queen
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). She's since made a name for herself outside the show's umbrella, helping Shangela and Eureka lead the HBO series We're Here to Emmy-nominated heights.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 9: Sasha Velour
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 10: Aquaria
Aquaria is the youngest winner in the history of the show, but took the title after clearly trumping her season 10 sisters in nearly every runway challenge (followed by two epic lip-synchs during the finale) with a poise well beyond her years. 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 has proven she's up to the task. 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 has rightly helped push drag into the future for the next generation under the Age of Aquaria.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 11: Yvie Oddly
The oddest oddball of them all, Yvie Oddly unapologetically injected the strongest hit of trippy absurdity into the world’s foremost drag pageant. Her jaw-dropping versatility on the runway was matched only by her ability to contort and contour her body into the most incredible shapes in the most epic sync in Drag Race history against Brooke Lynn Hytes. She might’ve literally bent over backwards to gag us throughout the season, but her path to the crown was a pure cake walk.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 12: Jaida Essence Hall
A pandemic and a fellow cast member’s pre-season controversy couldn’t derail Jaida Essence Hall’s rightful ascent to the throne of superstardom. With classic fashion sense mixed with progressive performance spirit, Hall made taking the title on a notoriously cutthroat competition look easy with her signature comedic chops, unique runways, and commitment to representing — and honoring — Black excellence across the board. Look over there, henny, there’s an icon in our midst.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, season 1: Chad Michaels
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, season 2: Alaska Thunderf-ck
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, season 3: Trixie Mattel
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.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, season 4: Monet X Change + Trinity The Tuck
For the first time in franchise herstory, RuPaul crowned two queens in one season, anointing Trinity The Tuck and Monet X Change as the only co-winning pair to snatch the title. And it’s not unjustifiable in the slightest. X Change fronted a monumental glow-up from season 10 to her coronation, acing narration of the season with her undeniable star wattage, while Trinity turned it out on the runway. Both queens represent vastly different drag styles, but together their power is, collectively, the single strongest entity Drag Race has ever produced.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, season 5: Shea Coulee
Jujubee might’ve turned the heat of the competition up to a sensible 74, and Miz Cracker buried her inner saboteur for good, but All-Stars 5 was never anything but The Shea Coulee Show. From the moment she stepped her crystal-crusted foot onto the Main Stage in her nude-illusion bodysuit, the race was this season 9 alum’s to lose, and for good reason: From her spot-on impression of a male celebrity for Snatch Game (the image of Coulee with a Flavor Flav clock around her neck will be burned into our memory for ages) to her complete slayage of the runway challenges and sustained activism in the community throughout the Black Lives Matter movement, Coulee became not only a shining example of Drag Race excellence, but a beacon of good for the entire community.
Drag Race Thailand, season 1: Natalia Pliacam
With its bonkers challengers, super specific cultural references, and deliciously energetic panel of hosts, Drag Race Thailand feels like a surreal, dreamworld version of the American series it’s based on. But someone like Natalia Pliacam represents the best of both worlds, embodying the right amount of classic drag glamour with distinct approaches to humor and performance that make her the ideal candidate to serve as the franchise’s first global ambassador outside North America.
Drag Race Thailand, season 2: Angele Anang
Angele Anang continued Thailand’s boundary-pushing precedent by becoming the franchise’s first (and, to date, only) transgender winner in herstory, proudly blazing a trail with top-notch showgirl vibes (she’s known locally as “The Beyonce of Thailand”) and killer looks that allowed her to skate through a season filled with campy queens and fashionistas nipping at her sky-high heels.
The Switch Drag Race, season 1: Luz Violeta
Loosely based on RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Switch stretches its monolithic queen contest out over twice as many episodes (season 1 boasted 24) for a supersized crop of contestants (17 on the inaugural batch of episodes), meaning season 1 champion Luz Violeta had to claw her way through an even feistier pool of cutthroat queens to claim her title. She would later return to the second season, but withdrew due during the middle of the competition.
The Switch Drag Race, season 2: Miss Leona
Against seasoned Drag Race alums like Kandy Ho and Gia Gunn, French beauty Miss Leona handily took The Switch’s second-ever crown after a 12-week run for the crown. She’s also an accomplished singer, having competed on the French edition of The Voice, where she reached the semi-finals under the name Leona Winter.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, season 1: The Vivienne
It’s a monumental task representing the most prominent international spin-off in the Drag Race franchise, but The Vivienne’s reign has Queen Elizabeth shaking in the deepest corners of Buckingham Palace. On the surface, she might look like a pageant stunner, but her approach to comedy is so much more than skin deep. Her intuitive wit, timing, and genuinely kind heart (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen her adorable interactions with fans and sisters alike on WOW Presents Plus’ God Shave the Queens) are palpable in every performance. There’s no denying you’re in the presence of the Royal Court when The Vivienne commands a stage, but she’s not afraid to serve greasy, gritty fish and chips out the back door, either.
Canada’s Drag Race, season 1: Priyanka
What’s her name? As if anyone could possibly forget, Priyanka’s signature catchphrase isn’t as much of a genuine question as it is an assertion of dominance after Canada’s inaugural champion stole hearts, the crown, and Miss Cleo’s ghost’s sanity over her franchise debut. She might not be able to tour her addictive personality around the continent just yet, but her delightfully chaotic social media feeds have been a quarantine joy for those perpetually glued to their screens indoors, running the gamut from legitimate post-show work (peep her in the new Anjulie music video) to hilarious exchanges with her platonic lover, Lemon.
Drag Race Holland, season 1: Envy Peru
This South American-born beauty handily won the Netherlands’ fiercest drag contest, taking four of eight challenge wins over the first season’s run. Her win came at a tumultuous time in Peruvian politics, and she used her new platform to raise awareness about political unrest and LGBTQIA+ rights in her homeland. On top of that, she can really turn a look on the runway, and that’s the kind of royal power we can all bow down to.