Since Dancing with The Stars premiered in 2005, fans have seen numerous celebrities compete for their chance to win the coveted Mirrorball Trophy over the show’s 27 seasons (note that Season 15 was the All-Stars season). On August 21st, the competing celebrities and professional dancers for Dancing with The Stars Season 28 were revealed on Good Morning America.
The Season 28 premiere will air on September 16th and twelve new celebrities will compete to win the Mirrorball Trophy. Fans were excited that among the competing celebrities this season include former NBA star Lamar Odom, Season 15 Bachelorette Hannah Brown, and Country Singer and American Idol Season 10 Runner-up Lauren Alaina, to name a few.
However, when former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was also revealed to be competing, fans were outraged as his tenure in the White House was during President Trump’s first eight months in office. Some called for producers to boot Spicer from the lineup and replace him with another male celebrity.
Even Dancing with The Stars host Tom Bergeron posted a statement on Twitter that implied he was against the casting of Spicer. The former White House Press Secretary isn’t the only controversial public figure who has competed on the popular reality competition show.
Along with Spicer, here are 10 of the Most Controversial Dancing with The Stars Competitors:
1. Bristol Palin:
Bristol Palin is the daughter of former Republican Party nominee for Vice President of The United States and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. During her mother’s failed campaign for Vice Presidency, Bristol notoriously made national headlines for getting pregnant at the age of 17 with her son Tripp.
Bristol’s casting on Dancing with the Stars Season 11 confused fans as she was only known for being Sarah Palin’s daughter and for her teenage pregnancy. Her run on the show proved to be controversial though as she and her professional dance partner Mark Ballas survived elimination week after week despite low scores. As a result, she received death threats and fans questioned the show’s voting process.
During the semi-finals week, she surprisingly earned the third and final spot in the finale over front-runner Brandy. This left fans even more furious. Bristol and Mark ultimately finished third on Season 11 of Dancing with The Stars. Four seasons later, Bristol returned to compete on the All-Stars Season where she was once again partnered with Mark. However, the couple was eliminated in Week 4 and finished ninth overall.
2. Sean Spicer:
Although Season 28 of Dancing with The Stars has yet to air, Spicer’s casting drew tons of ire from fans on social media. While producers defended their decision of casting the former White House Press Secretary, longtime Dancing with The Stars host Tom Bergeron posted a statement on Twitter which implied that he didn’t support it at all.
Spicer has made headlines for his controversial statements while serving as the White House Press Secretary during President Trump’s first eight months in office. His casting seems like his chance for a public redemption story, which Dancing with Stars has provided for several controversial celebrities in the past, including a few that made this list.
3. Paula Deen:
The Southern Celebrity Chef made headlines in June 2013 after she was sued for racial and sexual discrimination by a former black employee who claimed that Dean said some derogatory words about African Americans. As a result of the controversy, Deen had several endorsements contracts, cooking programs, and publishing deals canceled (several companies though didn’t drop her though). Two years later, her participation on Season 21 on Dancing with The Stars still sparked some bit of controversy.
4. Tom DeLay:
The former U.S. House Majority Leader was a controversial figure after he was indicted for criminal charges by a Texas grand jury in 2005 for conspiring to violate election laws in 2002. Four years after those charges, DeLay was controversially cast on Dancing with The Stars Season 9, which happened before his case went on trial. However, he withdrew from the competition in Week 3 due to having stress fractures in his feet.
5. Tonya Harding:
World Silver Medalist and two-time US Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding’s participation on Season 26 of Dancing with the Stars (which lasted four weeks and had only 10 celebrities competing) sparked outrage on social media. The reason why Harding’s casting was controversial was due to her alleged role in the scandal where her ex-husband and bodyguard attempted to take out her rival Nancy Kerrigan to keep her out of the 1994 Winter Olympics.
While Harding has since maintained her innocence, the public still viewed her as one of the most controversial sports figures ever! Despite the backlash, Harding managed to finish third overall on Season 26 of Dancing with The Stars behind 2018 US Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon (the winner) and NFL Player Josh Norman (runner-up).
6. Ryan Lochte:
Competitive Swimmer Ryan Lochte has won 12 Olympic Medals (six golds, three silvers, and three bronzes) and this makes him the second most-decorated US Male Olympic Swimmer in history (behind Michael Phelps). However, he created international controversy after he and three other US Male Swimmers embellished a story where they claimed to be pulled over and robbed by armed men in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics. As a result, Lochte was suspended by USA Swimming for 10 months and lost millions in sponsorships.
Despite wanting to hide and not be out in public for a while, the Olympic Swimmer accepted a spot to compete on Season 23 of Dancing with The Stars (something he’s expressed publicly that he wanted to do in the past) which aired in the fall right after the 2016 Summer Games. After his first performance on Dancing with The Stars, several protesters rushed the stage wearing Anti-Lochte T-shirts (there were also some audience members wearing these shirts too) before being kicked out by security.
7. Heather Morris:
While the Glee Star hasn’t made headlines in the past for anything controversial, Morris’s participation on Season 24 of Dancing with The Stars was raised a lot of eyebrows because of her past dancing experience. Before she starred on Glee, Morris competed on Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance (which several pros of Dancing on The Stars have competed on in the past) where she was cut in the round right before the Top 20 (the live shows) and participated as a backup dancer on one of Beyonce’s tours. While it wasn’t ballroom dancing, many fans thought that Morris’s past dancing experience would give her an unfair advantage compared to her fellow celebrity competitors (which some of them were reportedly upset about).
8. Geraldo Rivera:
Prior to being cast on Dancing with The Stars Season 22, the journalist and talk show host had a reputation for generating controversy from sexist remarks to disclosing an upcoming US military operation in Iraq during a Fox News Broadcast. When he competed on Season 22 of Dancing with The Stars, his horrible dancing caused him to be the first celebrity booted.
9. Kate Gosselin:
On Season 10 of Dancing with The Stars, the Reality TV star from Jon & Kate Plus 8 became one of the show’s most controversial contestants ever for her poor attitude. She constantly bickered with her professional partner Tony Dovolani, who was one of the most beloved pros and the show’s longest-serving one.
When Gosselin began questioning his teaching methods, things between the celebrity and pro that Dovolani actually quit the show mid-competition but returned the same day. A few years after Season 10 ended, Dovolani revealed he went to see a therapist after his time with Gosselin.
10. Chaz Bono:
The activist and author is the only child of Entertainers Cher and Sonny Bono. Chaz is a transgender man, having been originally born as a female with the name Chastity Sun Bono. Between 2008-2010, he underwent the female-to-male gender transition, which ended in May 2010 when a California judge granted his request for gender and name change.
When Bono was announced as one of the competing celebrities for Season 13 of Dancing with The Stars, it marked the first time an openly trans man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender. However, Bono being part of the Dancing with The Stars Season 13 cast resulted in outrage from conservative viewers of the show, who even threatened to boycott due to Bono’s transgender status.
The hateful comments caused Cher to defend her son on Twitter and for producers to release a statement in support of Bono’s casting. In addition, Dancing with The Stars producers hired more security for extra protection while he was on the show. Despite exhibiting grace and courage, Bono and his professional partner Lacy Schwimmer received low scores for their dances each week until they were eliminated in Week 6. From the 12 competing couples on Dancing with The Stars Season 13, Bono and Schwimmer finished seventh overall.