How much money has each season of RuPaul’s Drag Race given away? Here’s the tea

How much money has each season of RuPaul’s Drag Race given away? Here’s the tea

Where money is concerned, RuPaul’s Drag Race has gone from a budget production some 15 years ago, filmed through a Vaseline filter in RuPaul’s garage (OK, that’s not quite true), to a global phenomenon in more than 15 countries, along with a number of spin-offs.

But while season one was the genesis of the million-dollar behemoth we now know as the Drag Race Ru-niverse, the queens weren’t exactly rolling in it after every mini challenge in the same way they are now.

So, just how much money has each season of Drag Race‘s flagship franchise given away? Ladies and gentlemen, start your data engines, and may the richest drag queen – probably Trixie Mattel – win.

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RuPaul’s Drag Race season one: $21,500

The budget for that first Drag Race was tight. The not-so-grand prize was the same as what just four maxi-challenges are now worth, sitting at a meagre $20,000 (about £11,800 at the time). Obviously, we still wouldn’t turn that down but to put it into context, Ginger Minj won $30,000 (£21,900 ) for a single lip-sync on All Stars 6.

Maxi-challenge prizes ranged from chocolate baskets to custom dresses and challenge immunity – and there no monetary wins for mini-challenges. Nina Flowers got $1,500 (£885) for being Miss Congeniality, though.

The first line-up of RuPaul’s Drag Race. (World of Wonder)

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Season two: $25,000

Money was still tight in 2010, but those logo purse strings were loosened ever so slightly for season two, with its cash-money prize sitting at $25,000 (£15,800).

Again, there were no monetary bonuses for maxi or mini-challenge wins, but there were a few gift cards and shopping sprees thrown in.

Season two’s queens battled for a little more than their predecessors. (World of Wonder)

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Season three: $75,000

The third season was where the queens began to hit the big leagues (not in comparison to today’s money, of course).

Raja took home $75,000 (a bit more than £48,000 at the time) for her troubles, but mini-challenge prizes remained as slight competition advantages, and maxi-challenges resulted in a few more gift certificates being handed out.

Drag Race season two prize money
The cast of season three. (World of Wonder)

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Season four: $100,000

Finally, the big bucks. From season four and 10 years after that, the prize money reached $100,000 (usually ranging from about £62,000 to £75,000) until Willow Pill’s victory run, but we’ll get to that.

The winner of the season received the jackpot, but no one else made off with anything but gift certificates.

Drag Race season four prize money
Season four’s queens were hoping to win the big bucks. (World of Wonder)

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Season five: $100,000

Not much changed between seasons four and five and no cash grabs for the maxi or mini-challenges.

RuPaul's Drag Race season five
The season five queens. (World of Wonder)

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Season six: $100,000

It was the same story for the season six queens, with Bianca Del Rio hitting the jackpot.

RuPaul's Drag Race season six prize money
The cast of season six. (World of Wonder)

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Season seven: $105,000

Katya was the second Miss Congeniality to receive a cash prize with her title: a $5,000 (£3,350) tip, finally starting to edge the cash total up again.

RuPaul's Drag Race season seven prize money
The cast of season seven. (World of Wonder)

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Season eight: $108,000

Season eight had the customary $100k dollar prize for the winner, Bob the Drag Queen, but a single challenge win also came with a company-sponsored tip.

Kim Chi nabbed $3,000 (£2,100) from for her win, and Cynthia Lee Fontaine got $5,000 (£3,500) as Miss Congeniality. The prize fund was slowly creeping up.

RuPaul's Drag Race, season eight prize money
The total prize money crept up for season eight’s contenders. (World of Wonder)

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Season nine: $108,000

Not much changed in season nine: $100,000 prize for Sasha Velour, and Miss Congeniality – rebranded to Fan Favourite after being bestowed upon Valentina – pocketed $5,000 (£3,850).

Having said that, a few more challenge wins came with a $1,000 (£770) cash tip: Shea, Sasha and Alexis Michelle were the lucky queens.

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race, season nine
Season nine’s line-up. (World of Wonder)

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Season 10: $100,000

You know the drill: Aquaria got the $100,000 (£78,000). What changed for season, though, was that the prize pot actually went down. Mini-challenge and maxi-challenge wins were only rewarded with gift certificates.

Poor Monét X Change became the only Miss Congeniality not to be able to make her bank balance swell.

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race, season 10
Times were tough in season 10. (World of Wonder)

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Season 11: $110,000

Yvie Oddly snatched that $100k (now about £89,000), but where season 11 changed the game was Miss Congeniality, All Stars 9‘s Nina West, entering her $10,000 (£10,900) tip era.

For maxi and mini-challenges, it was gift cards, gift cards, gift cards.

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race, season eleven
Season 11’s contenders. (World of Wonder)

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Season 12: $201,000

Season 12 kicked off the era of Drag Race we’re currently in, by which we mean they just started lobbing money around.

Jaida Essence Hall got her $100,000 (£75,000), Heidi N Closet snatched the $10k (£7,500) for Miss C, but along with each queen present in the grand finale being awarded a $2,000 (£1,500) tip, maxi-challenge wins were all now worth $5,000 (£3,750).

It’s also worth noting that Sherry Pie, who was disqualified from the competition after making it to the final four, won two challenges and was therefore “awarded” $10,000. Since then, according to the season’s wiki page, “VH1 and World of Wonder have matched Sherry’s prize money with donations to The Trevor Project.” It’s unclear whether Sherry ever received any cash.

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race, season twelve
The season 12 queens had something to celebrate. (World of Wonder)

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Season 13: $200,500

Season 13 was much the same story: each maxi-challenge win was worth $5,000 (£3,750), each queen got a $2,000 (£1,500) tip at the finale, LaLa Ri got $10k (£7,500) as Miss Congeniality and Symone nabbed that sweet, sweet $100k (£75,000) as America’s Next Drag Superstar.

The cast of RuPaul' Drag Race, season thirteen
Season 13’s cast. (World of Wonder)

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Season 14: $313,500

For the first time in Drag Race history, a single season gave away more than a quarter of a million dollars. Gag.

Calculators ready? Maxi-challenge wins were still at the $5,000 (£4,200) mark, but several mini-challenges were also now $2,500 (£2,100), and again, there was a $2,000 (£1,700) tip for all at the finalists.

It was announced at the final that the winner (Willow Pill, as it turned out) would get $150,000 (£127,500) rather than the standard $100k, and the runner-up (Lady Camden) would receive $50,000 (£42,500). All added up, that made a grand total of $313,500 (close to £266,500).

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race, season 14
Season 14’s queens got a nice surprise. (World of Wonder)

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Season 15: $317,500

In yet another step up, the grand prize for season 15 was $200,000 (£160k), which of course went to Sasha Colby.

Elsewhere, everyone in the final got $2,000 (£1,600), Malaysia Babydoll Foxx got $10k (£8,000) and some mini-challenges wins were worth $2,500 (£2,000). Maxi-challenge wins all came with a $5,000 (£4,000) tip.

The cast of RuPaul's Drag Race, season fifteen
The prize money went up again for the season 15 queens. (World of Wonder)

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Season 16: $437,600

Drag Race season sixteen featured a $200k (£157,000) main prize, which went to Nymphia. Each maxi-challenge win was worth $5,000 (£3,900), both Miss Congenialities (Sapphira and Xunami) were awarded $10k (£7.850), Plane Jane received $25,000 (£19,500) after being eliminated in the finale and Sapphira got the same ($25k) as runner-up.

Morphine Love Dion nabbed $50k (£39,000) for her win in the lip-sync smackdown, most mini-challenges were worth $2,500 (£1,900), and there was that random mini-challenge where Ru just handed out money, meaning Sapphira, who won, got an extra $900 (£700), as well as every other cast member racking up at least a few hundred dollars.

And, on top of that, each contestant in the final was just chucked $2,000 (£1,500) by Olay Body.

All the sterling calculations are estimates. Remember, we’re just poor little journalists – not Alan Turing!

RuPaul's Drag Race season 16 poster
Season 16’s queens were battling for crazy amounts of cash. (World of Wonder)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is available on Paramount+ in the US and WOW Presents Plus in the UK and internationally

The post How much money has each season of RuPaul’s Drag Race given away? Here’s the tea appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.

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