It’s an all-athlete field for Season 26 of Dancing With The Stars. Where are you placing your ballroom bets?
Ever since Dancing With the Stars sambaed into our living rooms back in 2005, star athletes have dominated the dance floor and have won the famed Mirror Ball Trophy 10 times, with a number of others finishing inside the Top 3. So, it’s only natural that the popular ABC dance competition would hold an “All Athletes” edition. Season 26 of DWTS pits 10 athletes of past and present against each other in a condensed four-week season.
Heading into the show’s season premiere on April 30, U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu is the oddsmakers’ choice to win, priced as a +300 favorite. Nagasu won a bronze in the team event at the recent Winter Olympics and her teammate at Pyeongchang, Adam Rippon, looks like her toughest competition in Season 26. Rippon is right behind Nagasu as the second-overall pick, set at +450 to win Dancing With The Stars.
NFL standout cornerback Josh Norman is up next on the odds board at +700, hoping to follow in the fleet footsteps of “football stars turned dancing machines”, Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, Donald Driver, and Rashard Jennings, who all won their respective campaigns on DWTS. Five other NFLers have finished second or third, so there’s good value with the Redskins’ shutdown corner.
Winter Olympians Jamie Anderson and Chris Mazdzer are both at +1,000, along with Notre Dame women’s basketball star Arike Ogunbowale, who’s hot off of two game-winners in the NCAA tournament and a national title for the Irish.
Softball sensation Jennie Finch takes a break from making batters look silly to compete in Season 26, set at +1,800 odds. That’s just ahead of former MLB star Johnny Damon at +2,000. Damon, surprisingly is just the second major leaguer ever featured on Dancing With the Stars after former Cubs catcher David Ross finished as the runner-up in Season 24.
Way down the odds for the all-athlete dance contest is perhaps the most controversial figure to feature on DWTS: former figure skater Tonya Harding. Capitalizing on the popularity of her recent bio pic, I Tonya, Harding is a +4,000 long shot to win the Mirror Ball Trophy and it will be interesting to watch the hosts and judges “dance around” her infamous past.
Last but not least – this guy is 7-foot-2 after all – is NBA legend Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, who is paying out at a tall, tall +8,000. The master of the sky hook is paired with Lindsay Arnold, who stands just 5-foot-6. Arnold is the defending winner, taking the Season 25 title with Jordan Fisher, but this difference in height, and the fact that Kareem is 71 years old, could be too much for a repeat victory.
Editor’s note: This piece initially appeared on Covers.com, a site also owned by Tribune. Keep up with all the fun novelty and entertainment props at Covers.com and follow the updated “Dancing With the Stars” odds on Twitter @Covers.