I consider myself a scholar in the ways of ANTM. Therefore, here is the official, highly scientific ranking of the girls who have won.
#20: Jourdan Miller--Cycle 20
Did you know that Jourdan was married at eighteen and divorced at eighteen? Don't worry if you forget; she will remind you half a dozen times an episode. At least.
Besides being as annoying as all get-out, there was something very robotic about Jourdan. Everyone went on about how she was the prettiest girl in the house (as though Renee were invisible, but all right then...) but Tyra tells us almost as frequently as Jourdan tells us about her marital status that pretty isn't everything. If you're looking for an interesting appearance, Jourdan just doesn't have it. Her face is as symmetrical as is mathematically possible, her voice has all the lilt of a car horn, and, honestly, she only took one shot the whole season that impressed me (the ill-advised trailer park shoot).
Actually should have won: Nina Burns. No question.
Failing that? Cory Hindorff, but he'll be fine on his own.
#19: Lisa D'Amato--Cycle 17
I'm about as far as you can get from being a fan of Angelea, but the fact remains that Lisa was in two seasons and, let's be frank, didn't actually win either one. Her "I-haven't-slept-in-weeks" eyes and open mouth never did much for me, and when she came back for All-Stars she seemed more interested in promoting herself as a reality TV persona and a rapper (Puchinetta is not even a word, girl) than as a model. Which was probably the best move for her, actually, because she was thirty. It's already hard enough for girls from Top Model to actually be successful; do we have to crown winners who are way, way too old as well? If you haven't made it at 22, you're not gonna make it, kids. (Robin Manning, I judge you for setting a precedent for old contestants. And for all your life choices.)
Actually should have won: Laura Kirkpatrick.
Shout out as well to Kayla Ferrel. You gotta bring it harder, girl, but I'm a big fan.
#18: Yoanna House--Season 2
I'm going to get right to the point.
Yoanna looks like someone's grandmother who dipped herself in formaldehyde, forgot how to smile like a sane person, and tucked herself away in a cave for fifty semi-well-preserved years so she wouldn't get a trace of a tan until it was time to be on the show.
She looks like a lizard, people. I don't get it.
And she almost quit, which just bums me out. Don't get me excited like that, Yoanna.
But the very worst thing about Yoanna is who she beat. Mercedes is, hands-down, my very favorite girl to ever compete. She's so adorable it should be illegal, she's positive, bubbly, and hilarious, she deals with lupus like a champion, and she took absolutely stunning photos. Nigel even mentions in a later season that she's one of the most successful girls ever to come out of the show. Meanwhile Yoanna...hosted a show about mean girls on The N. (And Mercedes, 21 on the show, is 33 now and still working.)
Actually should have won: Do I even have to say it?
#17: Whitney Thompson--Cycle 10
Let's make this clear: I love, love, love that after 10 seasons of dragging around the token plus-sized girls, one actually won. It's about time! And Top Model has featured some incredible plus-sized girls. (And shirked some incredible ones as well--Mary, I was rooting for you every time!)
But I can't shake the feeling that...that's why Whitney won. Because they knew it was time for a plus-sized winner, and not because of anything actually to do with Whitney. Which is a sad thought, because I like Whitney, I do. But every time I rewatch the season, I notice more and more that her photos are just not great. It's telling that she was in the bottom two more times than any other winner in the history of the show.
Actually should have won: Katarzyna Dolinska.
I'm also a huge fan of Stacy Ann. That face shape!
#16: Saleisha Stowers--Cycle 9
As far as the whole Saleisha controversy goes (to recap: she went to Tyra's T-Zone camp and had done a fair bit of work before the show, and only eeked onto the show by a loophole in the rules) I really don't care all that much. All right, so she was a recruit, but so was basically everyone who's ever played Survivor, and I got over caring about that a long time ago. And I don't think Tyra was easier on her because of that. Does Tyra really seem like the type to compromise ANTM because she knew her for a few months when Saleisha was fourteen? Tyra loves Top Model more than she loves any human who has ever lived. Tyra might even love Top Model more than she hates Tiffany.
But as much as I don't care about that stuff, you can't deny that it tainted her win. As did that haircut. it's tough to support a girl who has that thing on her head.
In all honesty, Saleisha was just unexceptional. She wasn't the worst of the pack by any means, but she wasn't inspiring. But in a season full of duds (looking at you, Heather. I don't see it. And that's not how Asperger's is pronounced) she wasn't so bad a choice.
Actually should have won: Jenah Doucette. Why did you stop modeling, Jenah?? Your face is the greatest face. RIP your rock climbing photo.
Honorable mention to Bianca Golden. Legs. For. Days.
#15: Krista White--Cycle 14
Krista's another girl who's...fine. She looked great walking, but her photos aren't the most memorable--seriously, how many can you actually remember? She was stuck on a boring season, which didn't help. At least she had the sanity to ditch that horsehair clip-on ponytail monstrosity ASAP. Best post-makeover hair edit since Bianca going bald.
My main problem with Krista is one you've heard before. She was 25 when she won. At least they didn't gloss over it; she talked a lot about how this was her last chance.
But if you look at her career after the show, looks like that last chance might have still come a little too late. She's one of the least-successful winners.
Actually should have won: Jessica Serafty. I guess? I know I should say Raina, but she annoyed me to no end. Her nude-plus-accessory shot was stunning, though. Don't you want to hang that in your salon, Andre?
#14: Laura James--Cycle 19
Another one in the "who cares?" category. Laura was in what was absolutely, 100%, the worst season of Top Model. I tried to rewatch it recently and just could not, which makes it the only season I've never seen all the way through more than once. It's just so dull, guys. It's so dull. None of the girls are impressive, the new format struggles more than any show reboot I've ever seen. And it took Laura way, way too long to figure out to take off that eye makeup for panel, Good Lord.
Let's stop talking about her before I fall asleep. Did you know Victoria Henley is a totally decent singer?
Actually should have won: Leila Goldkuhl, robbed twice: once with that unfair elimination, one with that incredibly unfair headpiece she had to wear at the final runway.
Also a big fan of Nastasia Scott, actually. That cheerleading shot was fieeeeerce.
#13: Brittani Kline--Cycle 16
Okay. I don't like Brittani. At all. All things being equal, she'd be a lot lower down in this list. She somehow manages to be irritating and forgettable all at once.
So why are so many people below her? Because who else should have won? Think about it. Who do you even remember, besides Alexandria? What were they really gonna do with this season, send everyone home and start over?
Oh man, they really should have. That would have been awesome.
Actually should have won: Uh, Hannah Jones? Maybe? Props on the name, at least.
I did really really like what we saw of Ondrei Edwards. Hope you're doing okay, bb.
#7: McKey Sullivan--Cycle 11
McKey is a strange character. First of all, choosing McKey was a very strange choice (though better than Amis). Second, she never seemed quite all...there. She has the same spacey expression in all of her confessionals, and she sometimes sounds like she's trying to do some sort of British accent, and, despite only being 19 on the show, she looked old.
But, in the second half of the show, she took phenomenal pictures. Her posing was insane. And, unlike basically everyone ranked below her, McKey was in a season stuffed with potential winners. The Cycle 11 girls brought it.
Actually should have won: Analeigh Tipton. Like McKey, it took her a while to really get in the groove, but once she sparkled, she sparkled, and she was just so sweet. Her acting work after the show has been phenomenal. She's really found her way. Yay!
#11: Naima Mora--Cycle 4
And we're entering the realm of girls I like! I actually like Naima quite a bit; the problem is, I don't know why. She takes a few good pictures...in profile. She seems nice enough...if completely boring.
But I don't know. Maybe it's because she's a ballerina, and I love a good ballerina. Maybe it's because her voice is made of warm chocolate. Or maybe it's that she freaking kills it in the final runway show. Seriously, no one stomps the finale show as hard as she does. Not even my girl Mercedes.
Didn't do much after the show. I was pretty psyched when my mom was watching Veronica Mars and there she was, though!
Actually should have won: You're good, Naima. Truth is, there weren't a ton of standouts this season.
#10: Caridee English--Cycle 7
I love Caridee. I do. She's funny, she's sincere, and she took some great photos. But she shouldn't have won.
First of all, I love the twins like I love oxygen, but I get why neither of them won. Because honestly? This was Melrose's season. And it pains me to say that, because I don't like her. But objectively, her loss was really shocking. She killed it through the whole show, and the judges raved about her final runway and weren't all that impressed with Caridee's. And yet...Caridee walked away with the crown. If I were a Melrose fan, I would have been furious.
Except I'm thinking the reason Caridee won was that there are no Melrose fans.
Actually should have won: Sigh.
#9: Teyona Anderson
I like Teyona. Her wind-tunnel look, as Tyra called it, is fabulous. She tends to photograph a little short, and she needs lessons on how to smile, but yeah, I like her. I just like all but one of the rest of the top seven more. (Get out, Celia.)
Everyone knows this was Allison's season, but I was also a huge fan of London and Fo. But most of all? Aminat. I just named a character after her the other day. Tall, gorgeous, Amazonian-goddess model-beast. Why'd they change your hair, my dear.
Actually should have won: Allison Harvard. Literally everyone knows this. Babies learn it along with their motor skills.
#8: Adrianne Curry--Cycle 1
Okay, so I don't super understand her nose, but besides that, Adrianne and I are cool. Cycle 1 so entirely doesn't hold up after this long (do you remember how they sent the other girls out of that plush, burgundy judging room while they looked at each girl's photo? What was up with that?) but her pictures are still solid. Her diamond photo? Lovely.
I also love that Tyra's disowned her just because Adrianne had the business savvy to pose for Playboy. Work it, girl.
Actually should have one: Elyse Sewall, obviously, but she didn't need it.
#12: Nicole Linkletter--Cycle 5
Read absolutely everything I had to say about Brittani and her season. Highlight it. Paste it here. I kind of want to lock her and Brittani in a room and see which one becomes interesting first. By the time we had a winner, we'd probably all be as old as Yoanna looks.
She kind of reminds me of Jourdan, except Nicole's face is slightly more interesting and at least being annoying gives her the slightest hint of a personality.
So why isn't she lower on the list? Because she's not a bad model. She's just not a great one, either. Her CoverGirl picture was lovely, and we all know that's what matters. (Until the later seasons, where nothing matters at all and there's no hope for humanity. Or the contestants.)
Actually should have won: Nik Pace.
#6: Nicole Fox--Cycle 13
I love a weird girl, and I mean a seriously weird girl (I love you, Allison, but being obsessed with blood isn't exactly edgy). Nicole brought her books to school in a wheelbarrow. That's just...incredibly impractical. You're a unique soul, Nicole.
She's also a completely solid model. She was a frontrunner from the beginning, and she kept it together the whole competition. I did think it was kind of sad that the girl who won the petite cycle was the tallest girl that season, though. Girls her height compete in regular cycles! (Think Noelle and Annaliese.)
Actually should have won: Laura Kirkpatrick. I got your back, girl!
#5: Jaslene Gonzalez--Cycle 8
What a glorious train wreck of a season. You've got Jael and Renee, both more famous for their run-ins with meth than any successful modeling. you've got 50 Cent pushing girls into pools. You've got mail-order Natasha, hilariously capable of making everything a compliment. And you've got the nicknames. If I had to sum the season up in one word, it's Wholahay.
I like when girls eliminated in the semi-finals come back, and I liked Jaslene a lot more here, on her second time around. Her runway was stunning, and her photos were quite good as well. She's been fairly successful since the show. I know this isn't the most glowing praise, but well, that's what #5 on the list means. She did a good job.
Actually should have won: It's all yours, Jaslene.
#4: Ann Ward--Cycle 15
Oh, Ann. It's not your fault that your win was boring. There's no shame in dominating--seriously, go you--but it doesn't make for the most exciting watch for us. She won something like 14 best photos in a row (I'm exaggerating, but not by much) and yet was so uncomfortable with herself that she made me uncomfortable watching her, Anchal-style.
On rewatch, though, I like her quite a bit. Her list of requirements for her perfect man are hysterical.
She made sense as the winner of the "high-fashion" season, even if she wasn't my top choice.
Actually should have one: Kayla Ferrel. I love, love, LOVE Chris, though. One of my favorite girls to ever compete. Sucks she didn't end up acting, as Tyra recommended. It turned out in later interviews that she was really only there for her sister. Sad.
#3: Eva Pigford--Cycle 3
The original short girl! I'm a big fan of Eva the Diva. I found her turnaround in auditions endearing, and I love her little tomboy thing. And that tarantula picture! Seriously hardcore.
A gorgeous, untraditional girl who had a lot of success post-show. A great pick for a winner, even if I did prefer the slightly-pretentious YaYa.
Actually should have won: Yep, YaYa DaCosta, who's had great success as an actress, like Analeigh. Score.
#2: Sophie Sumner--Cycle 18
My second-favorite girl in one of my very favorite seasons. Sophie has all the charisma Naima lacks and then some. I love her too-far-apart eyes and her height and her pink hair, and I love that she's one of the ones who shows pictures of herself looking ugly as a kid...and seriously looked ugly.
Where she really won me over was in the music video, which I watch all the time. How cute is her "I'm the one they talk about mostly?" I say I love the video ironically, but I think I just love it, guys. I think I do.
She loses some points for that seriously weird leaning-back walk she did in the final runway show. Seriously, what was that?
Actually should have won: This was Sophie's season. But I did mention she was my second favorite...Annaliese Dayes, my dear, you are a sweetheart goddess, and my favorite girl ever after Mercedes. Love that you've been so successful. And one time she tweeted at me! So.
Aaaand our #1...
#1: Danielle Evans--Cycle 6
Flawless photos, sweet-as-pie personality, and that. walk. Remember when she posed with the elephant? Remember when she held Joanie's hand for hours during her oral surgery? Remember the judging challenge when she was a high-fashion fireman? That was the moment I knew she had it in the bag.
(By the way? She did end up getting the gap closed. I don't know how I feel about this.)
Actually should have won: Ha! Love you, Dani. Wear it with pride.
Did I get it all wrong? Let me know in the comments!