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Top 10 Dancing with the Stars Scandals and Controversies

VO: Emily Brayton
Dancing with the Stars over the years has had many talked about controversies and scandals, such as Julianne Hough being a judge while Derek Hough was competing, Maksim Chmerkovskiy's many affairs, the James Maslow voting controversy, and many contestants such as Alfonso Ribeiro being accused of having previous dancing experience. Surprise eliminations, shocking live moments, and lots of drama can be found on this list. Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the top 10 Dancing with the Stars scandals and controversies.
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It may be said that one should dance like no one is watching, but when millions are watching, it’s not just dancing you have to worry about. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Dancing with the Stars Scandals and Controversies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the show’s most scandalous and talked about moments that sparked controversy.

#10: Cheryl Burke & Drew Lachey Rumored Affair

Skills on the dance floor are sometimes associated with skills in the bedroom, so it’s no surprise that one of the top scandals on the list involves rumors of a hot and steamy affair between one of the dancing pairs. On season two, 98 degrees member Drew and his beautiful dancing partner Cheryl were rumored to not only be heating up the dance floor, but burning up the sheets as well. Both adamantly denied these rumors, Burke going so far as to say it was absurd; but they nonetheless made many tabloid headlines.

#9: Jerry Rice Keeps Hanging On

Season two definitely saw its fair share of scandals and controversies; however this one involved staying power– on the dance floor at least. Many seemed surprised that Jerry and his partner Anna Trebunskaya continued to hang in the competition, despite scoring lower averages many weeks than some of the other pairs. However, the fans spoke volumes with their votes, which continued to propel the pair week after week. Jerry and Anna took home second place for the season; not a bad finish for the former football star.

#8: James Maslow Voting Controversy

One element of any reality competition show that adds to the excitement and tension is viewer voting to help determine who stays and who goes. With the prevalence of social media, it only made sense to add Facebook voting as one method for fans to voice their picks. However, when some people voted for James and his partner Peta, the automated response message they got reportedly confirmed a vote cast for the couple that went on to win season 18. While ABC network and showrunners assured fans that the votes were counted correctly, many were livid to see Maslow and Murgatroyd eliminated in 4th place and cried conspiracy.

#7: Springer Gets the Votes

While Jerry Springer might have chair and shoe dodging skills after years of hosting his talk show, the judges were less than impressed with his dance moves. Despite consistently getting one of the lowest judge’s scores each week, Springer and Johnson managed to outlast five other pairs in season three. Much of the couple’s success in avoiding elimination was attributed to an on-air campaign on the Opie and Anthony radio show, in which the hosts urged voters to call in and support Jerry and Kym. While this may be one of the less controversial events on this list, many still argue that the outside influence and support gave Jerry an unfair advantage.

#6: Disgraced Chef Paula Deen

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; and Chef Paula Deen certainly hoped that she could fan away some of the smoke surrounding her racism scandal by setting the dance floor ablaze instead. Almost two years after Deen was dropped from the Food Network for admitting to the use of racial slurs, as well as other questionable statements, Paula tried to show off her footwork with dance partner Louis van Amstel. Needless to say it was a recipe for disaster; not only did the pair score extremely low each week, but Paula struggled to remember her routines and fans were not supportive of her attempt to regain public appeal.

#5: Conservatives Do NOT Want Chaz Bono

As with any show, audiences are often split on beliefs and viewing preferences and sometimes who a show picks can garner even more attention than their actual performance. When Dancing with the Stars selected Chaz Bono for season 13, the more conservative viewers were furious and boycotted the show for having a transgendered man as one of the stars. Chaz however, did not let this interfere with delivering several stellar performances with his dance partner Lacey Schwimmer. Over eighteen million people viewed season 13, and Chaz was given accolades for representing the LGBTQ community on the show.

#4: Maksim Chmerkovskiy's Many Alleged Affairs

If rumors are to be believed, Maks has had no trouble filling up his dance card, both on and off the show. Scandal did not just stop at the stage door for this dancer, as he’s been linked to Kate Upton and Jennifer Lopez throughout the years. On the show, he supposedly romanced several of the female contestants, including Willa Ford, Erin Andrews, Peta Murgatroyd, and Meryl Davis. Given that Peta was involved with fellow Dancing with the Stars contestant Damian Whitehead shortly before she got engaged to Maks, this is one rumor that seems to be more than a song and dance.

#3: Bristol Stays In the Game

It’s hard not to wonder if politics played a role in the outcome of season eleven, as Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaskan governor and 2008 US VP candidate Sarah Palin, seemingly remained on the show each week, despite her consecutive low scores. Bristol and her dance partner Mark Ballas finished the season in third place, beating R & B singer Brandy and her partner Maksim, a pair that consistently received much higher weekly scores, into the finals. Many thought the show, for political reasons, tampered with the viewer votes to ensure Palin continued on each week, but no voting irregularities were proven.

#2: Hough Shouldn't Judge Hough

Usually when a brother and sister appear on a list about controversies and scandals, it has more to do with sibling rivalry than sibling solidarity, but in this case it was the later that set tongues to wagging. When former dance-pro Julianne Hough, became a permanent judge on the show, many were thrilled, but others were not. A few of the show’s contestants argued that this was not appropriate, given that her brother Derek was one of the show’s current dance pros. One of the most vocal opponents was Karina Smirnoff, who questioned the ethics of the decision.

#1 Previous Dancing Experience

The basis of Dancing with the Stars is the concept of stars learning how to dance from the pros, blunders, missteps, and all. So when one of the stars seems to have an edge over the rest of the competition, it causes quite a stir. Alfonso Ribeiro was accused of this during his run on the show, given his Broadway performance experience, he disagreed, saying it was not the same type of dance and he had not taken any previous dance classes. Hard to believe the winner of Season 19 is the man responsible for “The Carlton.”
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