Want to better your odds of winning a TV Elimination show? Win the first Challenge

In an elimination-style show, how important is it to win the very first challenge? Does winning this challenge better your odds of winning the entire show? While every show is unique, after digging into four different popular elimination-style shows, my answer is a definitive YES.  

To better answer this question, I did a deeper dive into four different elimination style shows: Top Chef, RuPaul's Drag Race, The Bachelor, and the Bachelorette. Top Chef and RuPaul both determine a winner and loser for each episode. The Bachelor and Bachelorette do not have weekly "winners", so I am using the recently added "First Impression Rose" as a proxy for a first episode "winner". 

I collected data on each of these shows: 54 seasons total, and 17 of those seasons were won by an individual who won the first challenge, corresponding to a 31% winning ratio. These shows and seasons have an average of roughly 14 contestants per season, so a typical individual has about a 7% likelihood of winning. That being said, winning the first challenge would make a contestant nearly 4.5 times more likely to win the entire show. 

Now, I'll show the same graphic and data for each individual show. Starting with Top Chef where winning the first challenge's importances has been acknowledged by the judges as a significant predictor of success in the show. Six of the seventeen season winners have won the first challenge. 

Next, RuPaul's Drag Race. Of the 12 completed US seasons, the overall winner has also won the initial challenge 5 times. 

Then, the Bachelor. Of the four shows in this analysis, the Bachelor's first impression rose holds the least predictive power. Of the fifteen seasons where a first impression rose was only given to one woman, that recipient has gone on to win the show only once (Hannah Ann from Pete's Season). From our sample, this merely doubles an individual's chances of winning the show. 

Finally, we have the Bachelorette where the first episode's winner holds by far the most weight. I was able to capture data on ten seasons where the first impression rose was given to one contestant. These first impression rose winners went on to win their season a whopping five times. This was a 50% success rate- made even more impressive given that there are 30 contestants in each season. A first impression rose for the Bachelorette makes that guy 15 times more likely to win a fiancè by the end of the season. 

Our takeaway- Contestants on the Bachelorette should think long and hard about what they say once they walk out of that limo. The Bachelorette seems to make up her mind about who she likes almost immediately. 

Thanks for reading.


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