Over the years, many fans have argued whether or not track records still matter when it comes to winning a season of Drag Race. While it is undeniable that a queen’s overall trajectory on the show matters when it comes to her chances of winning the season, the numbers on the board don’t always tell a full story.
There have been many queens in the past who steamrolled the competition and went on to win their respective seasons. Namely Sharon Needles (season four) and Symone (season 13), who both got to their respective finales with four maxi challenge wins and were crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar. That was also true for Alaska on All Stars 2 and Trinity The Tuck on All Stars 4, both of whom entered the Drag Race Hall of Fame after winning four challenges.
On the other hand, many underdogs on RuPaul’s Drag Race have also risen to the occasion when it mattered the most and managed to snatch the crown despite competing against finalists with arguably better track records.
Now that Pill has been officially crowned, it’s time to examine her track record in season 14 and look back at the other past Drag Race winners who only won a single maxi challenge throughout the competition.
Pill made it to the top five of Drag Race season 14 with one maxi challenge win and two bottom placements. However, Pill’s overall performance on the show gave her an undeniable edge over her competitors, despite all of the queens’ actual track records.
On an official basis, Pill only won the Ball challenge, which took place in episode three. Alas, this Denver queen had consistently great performances over the course of the season and got very close to winning several maxi challenges on the show. She also did a great job lip syncing both times she landed in the bottom, which gave viewers an even clearer impression that this was the frontrunner to watch.
Speaking of Denver queens who snatched the crown, the incomparable Yvie Oddly got to the grand finale of Drag Race season 11 after only having won a single maxi challenge. Oddly’s sole win was during the “Good God Girl Get Out” acting challenge from episode two – a shared win with Scarlet Envy that rewarded the two queens’ hilarious performances in their scenes together.
Much like Pill, though, Oddly felt like a consistent frontrunner all season long. Oddly’s only real failure in the competition happened in the Snatch Game, but that was followed by the Denver queen’s legendary double shantay lip sync to Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry” with Brooke Lynn Hytes.
The first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under was marred by controversy when it came to its contestants. But through it all, Kita Mean carried herself like a true drag veteran who was worthy of snatching the first Down Under crown.
Despite the fact that other finalists had better track records on Down Under, Mean proudly represented New Zealand and came out swinging at the grand finale. Her only win happened in the makeover challenge, but Mean was still crowned by Mama Ru as Down Under’s First Drag Race Superstar.
On All Stars 6, Kylie Sonique Love re-introduced herself to the Drag Race franchise 11 years after her first appearance in season 2. In many ways, Love’s biggest obstacle on the show was keeping up with the new formats and expectations established by the franchise over the years.
Love only one a single maxi challenge on All Stars 6 – the Rumerican Horror Story: Coven Girls acting challenge – but still made herstory as the first-ever trans queen to win Drag Race in the U.S. This was yet another example of a queen who presented herself as a frontrunner no matter how her scorecard compared to the others.
The second season of Drag Race Holland also crowned a queen who only won one maxi challenge in the competition: Vanessa Van Cartier. Just like Mean from Down Under, Van Cartier won the iconic makeover challenge.
Out of the top three of Drag Race Holland in season two, Van Cartier was the only queen to never have landed in the bottom throughout the competition. Still, she went up against My Little Puny, who had two maxi challenge wins, and outlasted Keta Minaj, who was eliminated after winning three maxi challenges. When the competition came down to the lip sync for the crown to the tune of Shirley Bassey’s “This Is My Life,” Van Cartier outperformed Puny and snatched the crown.
The competition was very tough on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. the World, but Blu Hydrangea rose above her competitors and was crowned the Queen of the Mother-tucking World at the grand finale.
Hydrangea only won a single maxi challenge over the course of UK vs. the World, but it was the one and only Snatch Game. In the episode, Hydrangea’s impersonation of Mike Myers (as Austin Powers and Dr. Evil) secured her a spot in the top two. She then had to lip sync for her legacy against Baga Chipz, who had also done a brilliant job impersonating Kathy Bates (as Annie from Misery). Besides landing in the top two, Hydrangea then went on to win that lip sync against Chipz to the tune of Alexandra Burke’s “Let It Go.”
Elecktra Bionic from Drag Race Italia season one is the oddest (sorry Yvie!) queen on this list given that she was technically crowned that season without winning a single official maxi challenge.
With that said, Bionic is still worth a mention given that despite her lack of wins, she did ultimately win the grand finale that justified her crowning – which can technically count as a challenge win.