Santino Rice: Why Did He Leave RuPaul’s Drag Race? Career And, Net Worth

Santino Rice on RuPaul's Drag Race
source: GettyImages

Whatever happened to Santino Rice on Ru Paul Drag Race? This question has been on many people’s minds since he left the show.


The show RuPaul’s Drag Race is an entertaining and insightful look at life as a drag queen. It has been on the air since 2009, with its 14th season premiering this year. The series follows the famous RuPaul’s personality judge of these competitions. She also acts in many different capacities, including mentor/host for those competing to be Gay For Play Game Show.

It seems like there will always be something new happening with this LGBTQIA. When Santino and Merle joined forces to launch RuPaul’s Drag Race, they intended it as a small project. But their personalities brought great perspectives that helped shape the show into what it is today: an international blockbuster phenomenon.

Since season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race, fans have wondered why the producer replaced the judge Santino Rice. The original panel of judges included Ross Matthews and Carson Kressley, and Michelle Visage. They took over for Merle Ginsberg after leaving the show following its third year on air; this irregularity proved beneficial when it came time to choose a winner.

That’s because two people were still loyal enough to admire and love what each competitor had created despite being different styles or aesthetics within themselves. This made their final decisions very difficult at times. Talks about Satino have sparked up again with the just-concluded season 14 of RPDR.

Who is Satino Rice?

Santino Rice is a TV personality and fashion designer born in Missouri on 20 August 1974. He’s best known for having served as a judge of America’s reality game show RuPaul Drag Race. Santino was born to his multiracial parents. He grew up in St Charles, probably with other siblings but has never spoken about them before, so most people believe he’s an only kid.

Santino has brown hair, which he wears long and sometimes clean shaved, and has blue eyes. From an early age, it became clear that the label “gay” had a lousy context. Its used mostly among bullies who wanted nothing more than to make others feel uncomfortable for their amusement or pleasure. He is tall and stands at 6ft 5ins, with a nice body build weighing 88kg. 

The scholarship program from The Fashion Institute of Design And Merchandising, located In Los Angeles, California, came up in 1992. He graduated in 1996. After graduating from (FIDM) with a bachelor’s degree, Santini then went on to work in the television industry.

He’s a dog lover who has been all around the US for both work and pleasure while also traveling Europe extensively. His favorite performers are Adele (especially her live performances) and Michael Jackson. In many of his Instagram captions, one can hear this song when posting pictures about flowers or travel destinations.

It makes him feel at peace, such as Italy-based seaside resorts, which appeal to designers’ senses because they love fashion. As reported, his estimated net worth exceeds 500 thousand dollars.

Related article: Top 10 Black Fashion Bloggers You Should Follow In 2022

Ru paul's drag race judges
source: zimbio

The Career of Santino Rice

Santino first rose to the limelight when he entered the reality show Project Runway, hosted by Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia, airing since 2004. He followed new fashion designers competing until all, but the judges eliminated all but one. Santino made it into the top three on this show’s run in New York City before ranking third behind Chloe Dao (two times) and Daniel Vosovic.

In 2006, Santino was a judge at the Miss Universe beauty contest and had also an unforgettable moment when he dressed presswoman SuChin Pak. She wore his design for her entrance onto the stage during the MTV Movie Awards. This victory led him to become more well known among audiences worldwide as someone who could create high-quality clothing without fail.

Santino made guest appearances on many reality shows the following year, including America’s Most Smartest Model. He taught the girls about fashion design in this show, and it is through his voice you hear he is very passionate about fashion. Santino’s year 2008 was hectic, between launching his own clothing company and designing dresses for many private clients.

He also came up with a new cigarette pack design that Camel cigarettes would use–the most popular brand of smokes in America at this time. He starred alongside Austin Scarlett and Nancy Brown in On The Road With Austin & Santino.

In 2010, which followed two designers traveling around America designing dresses for small-town girls who were celebrating birthdays or graduations; unfortunately, this series failed either way. That same year, he played a homeless person named Loughner (a nod towards Bruce LaBruce) featured in an adult horror movie written/directed by Bruce known as L.A Zombie, featuring Francois Sagat.

It wasn’t until 2012 that he made it to RuPaul’s Drag Race. Santino may have retired from drag racing, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t rock a diva tune. The singer has been busy with other projects since his final episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2015. Santino Rice will be a part of the documentary Mr. Ward, still in production which features stars like Madonna and Bruce La Bruce.

Why Did Satino Rice Leave The Show?

It got reported that neither RuPaul nor Santino Rice has spoken publicly about why the latter left their show. However, on Reddit, some “Ru paddock” fans speculated it was because he didn’t have much knowledge regarding drag and mostly commented on fashion-related matters.

This may be true at first glance but is far from complete truth once you consider all factors involved in this matter. As proceeding seasons progressed, less time got spent focusing specifically on each queen’s outfits, so there wasn’t anything for him to complain about.

Some people believe that RuPaul left the show because it’s part of his natural evolution as a reality TV star. Many other successful shows have changed their formats and judges every few years – like American Idol or Chopped. Another reason may be how much popularity Ross Mathews has had among fans since stepping in to replace him on Drag Race; Carson Kressley also joined after being originally cast for Queer Eye.

A tweet (referring to his #alliswell post) garnered lots of attention from followers, asking if all was well or whether there were any negative feelings toward anyone. Santino wrote back, thanking everyone who cared enough to listen and expressing how happy they made him feel, knowing people care so deeply about what happens next.

 Rumors of Rice’s possible departure from RPDR swirled for some time. The two got seen together in 2015, but neither has spoken publicly about the other negatively. This is just one more example on an endless list that we’ll never know what goes down between them.

No matter how hard you try or where your imagination runs wild – there won’t be any tell-all books or revealing interviews coming out anytime soon, either way, so all hope may seem lost at times but don’t worry.

The Love Life of Satino Rice

He is attracted to both men and women–making him bisexual. The famous fashion designer doesn’t talk much, so we don’t know who he is involved with. Santi may be in love with a man or woman today without any evidence supporting these claims either way. 

What is Satino Rice up to Now?

His work as an advocate for natural and healthy living has not gone unnoticed. In 2017, he appeared on The Doctors to promote his 111-day juice fast. This mission has gotten negative responses and tagged unsafe. DTLA Explorer revealed that Santino Rice began working at a vegan restaurant called Wild Living Foods in LA.

It serves meals, juices, and organic snacks made with plants only – meaning no meat or dairy. The blogger also attests that it’s easy-going if you don’t mind eating 100% raw food dishes every day. Rice’s Instagram account is full of art, fashion, and healthy living.

Santino Rice Biography

Santino Rice is a busy man these days. He also showcases his love for dogs on the social media platform with occasional Twitter updates that are more controversial than usual, thanks to vaccinations or modern medicine being an issue lately–sometimes both.  Santino’s account got suspended for all the wrong posts.

He’s grateful to RuPaul for accepting his offer and allowing him the time he needs away from work, but that doesn’t mean anything will change regarding what projects are next on tap or how ambitious Santy wants everything.


His departure disheartened fans, and they tried to discover the exact root cause. Experts doubt Santino’s expertise in drag culture; he may have experienced an abrupt nosedive because of tough competition on his part. 

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Fanti Tukuwei
I'm a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle enthusiast, and the ultimate curves queen. Here, I share beauty, fashion, and lifestyle tips to teach, inspire, and give confidence to all women.