One month before the show’s March 9 premiere, Deadline reported that panelists Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong walked off set after one of the new characters was unmasked as Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor’s costume remained a secret at the time, but some fans were upset that the otherwise apolitical show had chosen such a polarizing figure for the cast.
The Giuliani controversy came nearly two years after the series drew backlash for inviting former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to compete as the Bear. The Going Rogue author was sent home in March 2020 during her first episode after performing a rendition of Sir Mix-a-Lot‘s “Baby Got Back.”
Palin later said that one reason she did the show was to hit back at her critics. “I knew it would be so refreshing and so freeing and well, in a real respectful way, kind of a walking middle finger to the haters out there in the world where I could do whatever I wanted to do and not care what anybody said because they wouldn’t know until after the fact,” she said during a May 2020 episode of the Masked Singer aftershow. “So it all worked out.”
Giuliani wasn’t unmasked during the season 7 premiere, but the episode still made headlines after the McTerrier accidentally knocked his own head off mid-performance. The contestant managed to hide his face from the panelists, but he still got unmasked at the end of the episode after being voted the weakest performer of the evening.
Though he went home first, Duff Goldman, who was inside the McTerrier costume, still had a blast competing on the show.
“I had so much fun on The Masked Singer,” he said in a post-show video shared via the series’ official Instagram account. “Everybody here is so cool. I put on this outfit and all of a sudden, I know I’m singing for millions of people, and I totally didn’t care. It was incredible.”
The Charm City Cakes founder also made history as the first person to accidentally lose their mask during the show. Mickey Rourke famously unmasked himself during his first outing in season 4, but he did it on purpose and self-eliminated.
The Masked Singer airs on Fox Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET. Keep scrolling for a complete list of clues about each contestant: