Austrian bearded drag queen wins Eurovision song contest

Singer Andras Kallay-Saunders representing Hungary performs the song Running during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Andras Kallay-Saunders representing Hungary performs the song Running during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Ralph Siegel, German composer and songwriter plays piano during the performance of Singer Valentina Monetta representing San Marino singing the song Maybe (Forse) during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in C
Ralph Siegel, German composer and songwriter plays piano during the performance of Singer Valentina Monetta representing San Marino singing the song Maybe (Forse) during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Firelight representing Malta performs the song Coming Home during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Firelight representing Malta performs the song Coming Home during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Molly representing the United Kingdom performs during the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Molly representing the United Kingdom performs during the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Sanna Nielsen representing Sweden performs during Grand Final of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Sanna Nielsen representing Sweden performs during Grand Final of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Singer Basim representing Denmark performs the song Cliche Love Song during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Basim representing Denmark performs the song Cliche Love Song during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The band Common Linnets representing The Netherlands perform their song Calm After The Storm during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The band Common Linnets representing The Netherlands perform their song Calm After The Storm during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Valentina Monetta representing San Marino performs the song Maybe (Forse) during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Valentina Monetta representing San Marino performs the song Maybe (Forse) during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Tolmachevy Sisters representing Russia performs during Grand Final of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
The Tolmachevy Sisters representing Russia performs during Grand Final of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Fans wait for the beginning of the Grand Final of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Fans wait for the beginning of the Grand Final of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Conchita Wurst representing Austria performs the song "Rise Like A Phoenix" after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Grand Final in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Conchita Wurst representing Austria performs the song "Rise Like A Phoenix" after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Grand Final in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Conchita Wurst representing Austria poses with the trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Grand Final in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA
Conchita Wurst representing Austria poses with the trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Grand Final in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA

COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Austria won this year's Eurovision Song Contest early Sunday with Rise Like a Phoenix sung by bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst.

The 25-year-old performer, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, took the Eurovision crown in Copenhagen despite initial expectations that the eye-catching performance would be too controversial in socially conservative countries.

"We are unity, and we are unstoppable," she said after winning the glitzy competition with 290 points compared with 238 points for runner-up the Netherlands, in what Eurovision fans had anticipated would be a more closely fought race.

Since the contest was launched in 1956, voting has often been tied to politics and the 2014 event was no exception, with the audience jeering countries that announced giving points to Russia.

Azerbaijan and Belarus both gave top marks to Russian entry Shine by the Tolmachevy Sisters.

Austria's Wurst didn't become one of the bookies' top candidates until Thursday's semi-final, amid reports that the drag act had prompted shocked petitions in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Even in Austria, the leader of the right-wing FPOe party had called the act "ridiculous".

"I have very thick skin. It never ceases to amaze me just how much fuss is made over a little facial hair," Wurst told AFP on Friday.

The Eurovision winner, who was visibly overcome by emotion after accepting the prize, secured most of her "douze points" from western European countries including Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands.