Austrian Drag Queen Wins Eurovision Song Contest

May 12, 2014
Originally published on May 12, 2014 1:58 pm

Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst has won the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with a James Bond-inspired power ballad.

The song, “Rise Like a Phoenix,” helped Wurst secure Austria’s second victory in the competition Saturday. The country also won in 1966.

The winner was picked by juries and television viewers across Europe.


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Some are calling Austria's win this weekend in the huge annual Eurovision singing contest a victory for tolerance in Europe. Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won. Here she is performing on Saturday night.


CONCHITA WURST: (Singing) Rise like a phoenix, out of the ashes, seeking murder and vengeance, retribution. (Unintelligible).

YOUNG: Conchita Wurst is the drag persona of Thomas Neuwirth. Officials in Russia and a few other Eastern European countries protested her even being in the contest. But she beat out top contenders like Armenia's singing pharmacist Aram. And Conchita's fans took to wearing knitted beards in the red and white colors of her home country. They were thrilled with her victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Chanting) Conchita.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: It was so great, and it's really good that we won. We're so proud of Conchita.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: And we knew the whole time that she will win.

YOUNG: And Conchita, dressed in sparkly evening gown and beard, talked about what her Eurovision win means for Europe.

WURST: Well, you know, I think for me, you know, my dream came true. But for our society, it just showed me that there are people out there who want to go in the future and go on, you know, and not stepping back or thinking in the past. So I thank Europe, and I'm so thankful about that, but I think we said something.


WURST: (Singing) (Unintelligible). I'm gonna fly. Rise like a phoenix out of the...

YOUNG: Remember, this is the contest that gave us ABBA. No telling where Conchita Wurst will go. To see a video of her winning performance, go to


WURST: (Singing) Once I'm transformed, one I'm reborn. You know I will rise like a phoenix, but you're my (unintelligible). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.