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Dancing with the Stars: Odds on the All-Athlete Cast

The latest season of Dancing with the Stars may have just come to an end, but it’s not too soon to look forward to the next. We certainly don’t think so, especially considering the sneak peek of next season that host Tom Bergeron gave us Tuesday night. Following Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold’s mirrorball win, Bergeron revealed that the next season of DWTS is set to be a unique one.

The spring season of the popular dance competition is not only going to be shorter — lasting only four weeks — but will also feature exclusively athletes. In a press release, ABC said the new twist will bring participants from “all corners of the sports world” to our television screens. Sports figures are no strangers to the DWTSstage; in fact, ten out of the twenty-five mirrorball champions have come from the world of sports. It turns out their natural athleticism and discipline translate pretty well to the dance floor.


It is interesting to note that for some reason ABC is not considering this the actual 26th season of DwtS; on Nov. 20th, Bergeron tweeted that Season 26 will be in the fall of 2018 — and that this “mini-season” is a “bite size, spray tanned spin-off.” What does that mean for the winners? Will they only get a mini-mirrorball? Will the competition be any different aside from the length and athlete-only contestants? There are so many questions and so few answers at this point.

The biggest question at this juncture is, “Who will our dancers be?” No names or dates have been officially announced yet for the compact “26th” season, but given the level of commitment required for the dance competition, we can assume that the athletes will be one of two things: retired or off-season. This doesn’t necessarily narrow things down a whole lot, but hey, it’s a start.


Below are our top picks for who will grace the stage this spring.

First Timers: Potential New Contestants

Figure skater Michelle Kwan, performing at a practice session for 2002 US Figure Skating Championships. CC License

Tony Stewart: 5/2


Stewart wouldn’t be the first racecar driver to take to the dance floor, but he would certainly be most famous. The three-time Sprint Cup series champion just retired from NASCAR earlier this year, and is making the most of his new-found time. He has already taken up cycling and gotten engaged to girlfriend Pennelope Jimenez — could a television dance competition be next? It would be a natural fit for his ultra-competitive nature.

Kyla Ross: 4/1


A member of the “Fierce Five,” Kyla Ross has actually already danced on the DWTS stage once, as support for her former teammate McKayla Maroney. We know that she is comfortable in front of a crowd, and if we’re talking grace, poise, and the ability to nail a routine — the gymnast has it all in spades!

Michelle Kwan: 7/1


Michelle Kwan’s name was everywhere in the late 90s/early 2000s. She was a tour de force in the figure skating world, so much so that she was offered television and movie roles, garnered huge endorsements, and was even granted an honorary doctorate degree. The rhythm and grace required to become a champion figure skater would serve Kwan well on the DwtS stage.

OJ Simpson: 9/1

Rumor on the street is that OJ and his people are courting DwtS in hopes that it will help to boost his public image after, well, you know … all that other stuff. The publicity for both Simpson and the show would be pretty insane, so depending on how badly producers want ratings, this might not be such a far-fetched idea.

Kobe Bryant: 11/1

Stay with me here. According to former teammate and DwtS contestant Derek Fisher, with the announcement of an all-sport themed season, Kobe’s name keeps coming up — and, Fisher says, the basketball legend is a huge fan of the show! Of course we don’t know whether producers have attempted to reach out to Bryant, but you can be sure a competition with Kobe in it would be huge.

Michael Phelps: 20/1

The Olympian has already turned down offers to compete on the DwtS stage in seasons past. In 2016, Hollywood Life reported that, though Phelps had considered having his dance skills put to the test, he decided against it; the swimmer would like his legacy to be in the water, not on the dance floor. Maybe he would take the bait if the producers promised that he could have a dance-off with a shark.

Alex Rodriguez: 100/1

Though I feel fairly certain that the man can dance — he is dating Jennifer Lopez, after all — the chances of A-Rod ending up on DwtS are pretty slim. Rodriguez isn’t exactly aching for exposure — or money, for that matter — and his girlfriend is an executive producer for World of Dance. I don’t see him jumping to the DwtSship to the competition any time soon.

Former Flames: Potential Return Contestants

Evander Holyfield: 7/1

Holyfield came in fifth during Season 1 of DWTS back in 2005. Is a 2018 comeback truly possible? Considering that Holyfield has made a bit of a career out of television appearances, our answer would be a tentative: yes. “Tentative” since he’s been out of the limelight for a few years; “yes” considering his well-known financial issues.

Kristi Yamaguchi: 9/1

Welcoming Yamaguchi back to the competition isn’t that implausible of an idea, considering how positive her experience with the show has been so far. The former figure skater won Season 6 (with partner Mark Ballas) and was featured during last season’s Trio Night. We wouldn’t be too surprised to see her face next year.

Derek Fisher: 12/1

Derek Fisher is almost an unofficial spokesperson for Dancing With the Stars these days. Despite being eliminated third last season, Fisher has nothing but praise for the show, and has even mentioned that he would like another shot at the title. Considering he was quite literally just eliminated a few months ago, it is not likely going to happen this season. That being said, he really, really loves the show.

Featured Image: Jordan Fisher, Season 25’s Mirrorball Champ. (Disney | ABC Television Group (flickr [CC License]))

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and Entertainment Critic at, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board and tour coordinator of the Television Critics Association’s press tours. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and DAP Health, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been a member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.