Twelve stars have been tapped to compete in the new season of “Dancing With the Stars,” which begins tonight on ABC. The batch includes athletes, comedians and reality-TV stars, but who is the favorite to win the Mirror Ball trophy?
Try Olympic gold medal winner Aly Raisman, one of the members of the U.S. “Fierce Five” gymnastics team at last summer’s London Olympics. Las Vegas oddsmaker Johnny Avello pegs Raisman to be the early front-runner, giving her odds of 5 to 1 to win.
“She’s just 115 pounds of energy. And if she follows someone like Shawn Johnson. Who knows, maybe she can win it all.” Avello told ABC News radio. “Now, it is early, but I think she’ll be a contender.”
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It’s a flattering comparison for Raisman: Johnson, a gymnast herself, is a former “Dancing With the Stars” champion.
On the other hand, Avello believes comedian Andy Dick and the star of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules,” Lisa Vanderpump, are the most likely celebrities to be bounced early from the competition. Fortunately for them, the first results show doesn’t take place until Tuesday, March 26.
Annie Barrett, a longtime “Dancing With the Stars” recapper for Entertainment Weekly, said Raisman is the contestant to beat, and that Dick will be on a short leash with viewers.
“I really don’t think many ‘Dancing With the Stars’ fans will want to see Andy Dick week after week. I really don’t,” she told ABC News Radio. “I think he’s pretty offensive. He’s been through a lot of recent troubles, and I just wouldn’t want it to become a freak show starring Andy Dick.”
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Vanderpump’s “Vanderpump Rules” castmate, Stassi Schroeder, a server at Sur, the restaurant featured on the series, told ABC News Radio that Vanderpump thinks she’ll be voted out early.
“I thought, she would do amazing, but she keeps talking herself down,” Schroeder said. “She’s like convincing me that she’s not going to do well. She’s like, ‘I’m only going to last one week, maybe two, if I’m lucky if my fans come out and vote for me.’”
Still, the Sur server doesn’t believe the self-deprecating Brit, and says “she’ll last a while.”
Schroeder’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Jason “Jax” Taylor feels the same way. “I think she’ll last longer just because of her popularity, regardless if she’s good or bad,” he told ABC News Radio.
And while neither has seen Vanderpump shake a tail feather inside Sur, they’re curious to see what Vanderpump’s husband, Ken, thinks of his wife’s dance moves.
A reality-TV show star has yet to score top prize on “Dancing.”
“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star Rob Kardashian was the closest one, placing second on season 13 with professional partner Cheryl Burke.
Barrett said that recent Super Bowl winner Jacoby Jones of the Baltimore Ravens is a wild card in the competition and could use his charm to his advantage. If Jones has the footwork like fellow NFL players Emmitt Smith and Donald Driver, who each took home the Mirror Ball trophy, he could come out a winner.
Figure skater Dorothy Hamill might also be a top contender to beat. The 1976 Olympic gold medalist could follow in the footsteps of fellow Olympic figure skating-champion and “Dancing With the Stars” season six champ Kristi Yamguchi’s footsteps to take home the Mirror Ball trophy. Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno took home the grand prize on season four.