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Dancing With the Stars: The 10 most controversial competitors in history

Dancing With the Stars controversial stars
Dancing With the Stars controversial stars. Pic credit: ABC

This season on Dancing With the Stars, fans have protested the arrival of one competitor in Olivia Jade.

However, this is nothing new for the reality dancing competition.

It seems like every season, there is someone that fans don’t think belongs in the competition.

It doesn’t matter if fans feel someone isn’t a real “star” or the person is someone controversial, there is someone there that fans want out of the competition.

However, those complaints almost always fall on deaf ears.

There are even some of these controversial DWTS competitors who make it deep into the competition.

With 30 seasons of history, here are the 10 most controversial Dancing with the Stars competitors.

1. Olivia Jade

Olivia Jade on Dancing With the Stars
Olivia Jade on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

This season’s biggest controversy is Olivia Jade, and fans got even angrier when she introduced herself as being known for her influencer status.

That is because Olivia Jade is best known for her part of the College Admissions Scandal. That was when the FBI arrested her parents for Olivia Jade’s college admission to USC.

There are many fans who don’t understand why she deserves “star” status for that, but she is still in the competition and part of it is because she is a social media star outside of the scandal.

2. Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte on Dancing With the Stars
Ryan Lochte on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

At one time, Ryan Lochte wouldn’t only be a beloved competitor on Dancing with the Stars, but he might be a fan favorite to win.

However, in 2016, Lochte was in Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics and claimed that they were held at gunpoint and robbed. It was a huge news story that was made bigger when Lochte admitted he was drunk and might have exaggerated the story.

He almost went to prison in Brazil for filing a false police report.

That same year, Dancing With the Stars invited Lochte to be on the show. He partnered with Cheryl Burke and made it to Week 8, finishing in 7th place.

3. Tom DeLay

Tom DeLay on Dancing With the Stars
Tom DeLay on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

It is always controversial to invite a politician to compete in Dancing With the Stars. It was even worse in DWTS ninth season when the show invited Tom DeLay.

This was in 2009, and he was only a few years removed as the U.S. House majority leader. His political career ended controversially and he was under an ongoing investigation by the government when he appeared on the show.

DeLay ended up withdrawing from the competition in Week 4, sending two people home that week. DeLay said it was because of health reasons.

4. Paula Deen

Paula Deen on Dancing With the Stars
Paula Deen on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

At one time, Paula Deen was the most successful television personality in the world of cooking.

That all ended in 2013 when Lisa Jackson sued Deen for racial and sexual discrimination, revealing that Deen made derogatory remarks about African Americans.

Deen admitted in her testimony that she has used derogatory terms in the past and she ended up losing her endorsement deals and getting her show canceled by Food Network.

In 2015, Dancing With the Stars invited Deen to compete on the show, and she ended up as the fourth star eliminated.

5. Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer on Dancing With the Stars
Sean Spicer on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

Sean Spicer was a polarizing figure when he joined Dancing With the Stars.

Spicer was the previous White House Press Secretary for President Donald Trump. He only lasted for six months in the role and resigned upon criticism of his statements to the press.

Two years later, Spicer was on Dancing With the Stars.

Spicer actually lasted longer than anyone could have expected, ending up as the sixth person eliminated.

6. Carole Baskin

Carole Baskin on Dancing With the Stars
Carole Baskin on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

Carole Baskin was one of the new era celebrities to join Dancing With the Stars, part of a documentary on Netflix about Joe Exotic.

As part of his story on Tiger King, Carole Baskin was the woman feuding with Joe Exotic over rival private zoos. She was also the center of a conspiracy theory that claimed she killed her second husband, something that was never proven.

Six months after Netflix released Tiger King, Carole Baskin was on Dancing With the Stars, where she made it to Week 3. Her elimination came in after an embarrassing Lion King-inspired performance.

7. Tonya Harding

Tonya Harding on Dancing With the Stars
Tonya Harding on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

Tonya Harding competed on Season 26 of Dancing With the Stars and the former Olympic figure skater made it deep into the competition.

Before this, Harding was best known for a controversial event in the world of figure skating.

Harding won the U.S. Championship in 1991 and 1994 but had the ’94 title stripped from her. That is because, in 1994, her ex-husband orchestrated an attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan.

Hardin accepted a plea bargain in the criminal case.

On Dancing With the Stars, Tonya Harding came in third place with partner Sasha Farber.

8. Rick Perry

Rick Perry on Dancing With the Stars
Rick Perry on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

Rick Perry was the 47th Governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015 and was the United States Secretary of Energy from 2017 to 2019.

In between those offices, Perry was on Dancing With the Stars Season 23. In his first dance, he introduced himself as the Governor of Texas, before correcting himself.

Perry teamed with Emma Slater and was eliminated in the third week, picking up the lowest scores of all competitors in all three of his dances.

9. Bristol Palin

Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars
Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

Bristol Palin was famous for two reasons when she appeared on Dancing With the Stars.

Her biggest claim to fame was the fact that she was the daughter of former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin. On top of that, she appeared as an actress in the show Thew Secret Life of the American Teenager.

In 2010, she appeared in Dancing With the Stars with Mark Ballas as her partner. While people complained all season about her being there, she was a massive success.

Palin finished up in third place before her elimination. DWTS invited her back for the All-Star Season 15, where she was the fifth person eliminated.

10. Marla Maples

Marla Maples on Dancing With the Stars
Marla Maples on Dancing With the Stars. Pic credit: ABC

Marla Maples was a legitimate star, an actress on TV and in movies for several years.

However, she was known for something more than her acting skills. Marla Maples was married to Donald Trump from 1993 to 1999.

What made her appearance on Dancing With the Stars so controversial was when she competed on the show. This was in 2016 – the same year that her ex-husband Donald Trump was running for President of the United States.

Maples actually talked about her former husband on the show.

It didn’t help her in the competition, as she was the third person eliminated after Geraldo Rivera and Mischa Barton.

Dancing With the Stars airs on Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

Shawn S. Lealos has been a freelance writer for 25 years, starting with magazines and newspapers before moving to the internet. He has been published in Inside Sports Magazine, The Daily...read more

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