“I’m rooting for Karamo. I think he’s going to do really well,” Rippon told Us Weekly exclusively at American Express and Delta Air Lines’ Perktoberfest Tour event in New York City on Friday, September 13. “I can’t wait to see who his partner is because I’m hoping it’s Jenna. So then it’s going to be a no brainer for me.”
When asked if he knows who Johnson’s partner is, Rippon responded, “I do know. How can I not? I know everything.”
He continued to play coy when asked if he has any tips for his former partner’s new star. “Maybe. I don’t know. It depends who it is,” he teased.
Along with the Netflix star, 38, other male contestants this season include former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, comedian Kel Mitchell, former NBA forward Lamar Odom, Dawson’s Creek alum James Van Der Beek and President Donald Trump’s former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
The Olympic bronze medalist — whose memoir, Beautiful on the Outside, is released on October 15 — also talked about his relationship with Johnson, whose wedding he attended in April.
Though Rippon and Johnson only met a year ago, the athlete considers the choreographer one of his closest friends.
“Honestly, we talk all the time,” he said. “From the day we met, we’ve just become such good friends and I think it’ll be that way for a really long time.”
As for his love of Brown and the rest of the Queer Eye cast, the Olympian told Us that he’s ready to be the Netflix series’ sixth member if the show ever needs one.
“If any of them ever get sick, they have my number,” he said. “But I think that they do such a great job. I love watching them work, and I think they’ve just brought a lot of positivity into the world. So I think what they do is really important and really great.”
For more with Rippon, watch the video above.
Dancing With the Stars premieres on ABC Monday, September 16, at 8 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Mandie DeCamp