Winning a reality competition can get you fame and fortune, but for the also-rans — even if they get eliminated early — a grand prize might still await.
With enough charisma to become memorable, these folks can find themselves in the winners circle with their own reality show.
Think back to 2006, when viewers were introduced to New York (aka Tiffany Pollard) on “Flavor of Love,” where she competed for the heart of the velour-wearing clockmaster Flavor Flav. Despite her inability to make a love connection, the exposure led to a slew of other reality opportunities.
It wasn’t long before Miss York was running the gamut of daytime talkers and making appearances on “Flavor of Love: Charm School,” before eventually snagging a few of her own competition reality shows. New York served as a model for other groupie-turned-girlfriend hopefuls Daisy De La Hoya and Megan Hauserman from “Rock of Love,” and a reality TV show format was born.
The potential of these also-rans can be a big business, both for the network and the former contestant. More often than not, unsuccessful challengers are finding their niche as hosts, judges and experts for other reality shows.
Tabatha Coffey was on the first season of “Shear Genius,” and while the saucy Aussie had the salon skills to make her noticeable to auds, a bad matchup with Tyson Daniel in a team challenge cut the hair salon owner from the running. However, her tell-it-as-it-is attitude and unique personal style won her the coveted fan-favorite prize and made Bravo execs take notice of the outspoken hairdresser.
“Tabatha’s Salon Takeover” aired first in August 2008 and follows Coffey from one failing hair salon to the next as she verbally whips the owners, the workers and the salon into shape. The season four finale aired April 3.
Designer Santino Rice was introduced to fans of “Project Runway” in the second season, where his talent, unapologetic (and sometimes brutal) honesty and dead-on Tim Gunn-goes-to-Red-Lobster impression won him fans, despite “Runway” editors’ attempts to cast him as the show’s villain. Santino made it to the final three, but ended up with the bronze, finishing behind Daniel Vosovic and Chloe Dao.
Santino bounced around the tube for a while, appearing as a judge on the Miss Universe pageant and “America’s Most Smartest Model,” before he landed on Lifetime’s “On the Road With Santino & Austin.” Teamed with fellow former “Project” designer Austin Scarlett, the two took a roadtrip through America’s backroads, helping cowtown ladies express themselves through couture.
In 2009, the designer landed a sedentary position as a judge on Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” where his comments help shape budding drag queens hit full superstar status. “On the Road” aired for a single season in 2010, while the season finale for “Drag Race” aired April 30.
“Top Chef” season-two runner-up Marcel Vigneron is best remembered for being his own fan-favorite. First introduced to foodie auds in season two of the Bravo competish, the molecular gastronomy guru managed to get himself ostracized from the other players due to his Kanye-sized ego, attitude and questionable rap. Vigneron made it to the final two, but eventually lost to Ilan Hall.
Yet despite his amour-propre, Bravo execs asked Vigneron to return to the tube with repeated visits to many a “Top Chef” All-Star specials. Eventually, Vigneron nabbed his own show on the Syfy network with “Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen,” which preemed in March 2011, where he teaches would-be foodies the joys of beer spheres and edible diamond rings.
Sugar spices skeins | Runners-up run up to series stardom | Music not the food of Emmy love | Race to mimic success of ‘Amazing’ never ends | A contending blend | Why we watch