One of the most controversial decisions by ABC came ahead of season 28 in summer 2019 when Sean Spicer was announced as part of the cast. At the time, many celebrities reacted to the news about the former White House press secretary, including then-host Tom Bergeron.
“A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS‘ new Executive Producer, I offered suggestions for Season 28,” the former America’s Funniest Home Videos host tweeted at the time. “Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its returning following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement. Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.’”
He added, “It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long term interests of the franchise. We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call. I’ll [leave] it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions.”
Bergeron was let go from the show the next year and replaced by Tyra Banks. Still, the controversial casting continued the following season with Carole Baskin. The Tiger King star was cast after being accused of having something to do with the disappearance of her former husband, Don Lewis. She denied having any involvement.
In September 2021, a source confirmed to Us Weekly that Olivia Jade Giannulli would compete on season 30. The influencer is best known for being part of the college admissions scandal after her parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to ensure their daughters’ admissions into the University of Southern California. Although the couple initially maintained their innocence, they later pleaded guilty to fraud charges and both spent time in prison.
Olivia, for her part, performed with Val Chmerkovskiy until their elimination in November 2021.
“I’m very proud of her. I’m proud of us. I’m proud of this season,” the dancer told Us after being sent home. “It meant a lot to me to be in a position to help somebody, period. But also somebody that could have used it. I’m grateful for that opportunity. I’m grateful that it worked too. We did win some folks over. We did get a chance to shed a different light on her and show her in a different spotlight. And then also show that she earned it, that she wasn’t just given it. She earned her stay here and for eight weeks, it’s been a blast. I got a lot of love for this young lady and I got a lot of love for the universe for bringing us together and giving me a chance to do this season.”
Scroll down for more of the most controversial celebrities who have competed on Dancing With the Stars.