How Did RuPaul's Drag Race Switch Up The Prizes For Season 14?

"RuPaul's Drag Race" has grown exponentially since it debuted in 2009. Season 1 of "Drag Race" is often referred to as the lost season for a reason (via Paper Magazine). While popular queens like Ongina and BeBe Zahara Benet were a part of the inaugural cast, the season has stayed out of the spotlight. The quality of the cameras, famously known as the "Season 1 filter," where everything looked blurry could be part of the reason, but the other may be that the stakes were quite low.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" was a rather unheard-of show on the Logo network, a niche channel specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. Compared to the ratings and prizes we see now, Season 1 wasn't all that impressive. The $20,000 cash prize was certainly a lot of money, but as the show evolved, that began to look like pocket change for the queens on the later seasons who have become rich in the process (per Screen Rant).

From Season 1 to Season 14, a lot has changed, especially when it comes to the prize money.

The evolution of prize money began during Season 2

Throughout the 14 seasons "RuPaul's Drag Race" has been on the air, a lot has changed. From the camera quality improvement to the stakes the queens take on when stepping into the workroom and leaving as part of a legacy, "Drag Race" is almost a completely different show (via TV Over Mind). The show has become mainstream, switching from the niche network of Logo to VH1, and making the industry extremely profitable.

Over the seasons, the switch to the mainstream and the acquisition of more big-name sponsors has allowed the prize money to get higher and higher. Season 1's $20,000 cash prize upgraded to $25,000 come Season 2. Season 3 saw an even bigger increase in cash flow, with Raja, the winner, cashing a $75,000 grand prize check (via Screen Rant).

From Season 4-13, the prize money stayed at $100,000, the highest in franchise history. That is until Season 14 rolled around, and there was a major change to the prize format.

Season 14 saw two changes to the prize format

Everything about the finale of "RuPaul's Drag Race" changed during the show's 14th season. Fans of the show have grown used to seeing a finale that featured a top three or at the max, four queens, but Season 14 flipped all of that on its head. According to Variety, RuPaul sent five queens: Bosco, Angeria Paris VanMichaels, Daya Betty, Lady Camden, and the eventual winner, Willow Pill, to the finale special. The changes didn't end with an extra queen in the final push for the crown, there was a big change to the prize situation, too.

During the Season 14 finale, RuPaul announced that the winner of "Drag Race" would grab the most cash in the show's herstory with a grand total of $150,000 (via Collider). The changes didn't stop there, though. For the first time ever, the runner-up would take home a check, too. $50,000 would be handed to Lady Camden, thanks to the show's sponsor, Cash App. It's unclear if these changes will remain for Season 15, but drag queens across the country are crossing their fingers that it will!