Will 'Dancing With the Stars' Help Ryan Lochte Fix His Reputation?
When Ryan Lochte takes the stage for tonight's Dancing with the Stars, the big question will be whether protesters will once again try to disrupt the show, as they did last week following his dance-floor debut. The Olympic swimmer, who was suspended from the sport after embellishing claims about being robbed at gunpoint during the Rio games—has said he hopes to use his appearance on the show to “prove to the world that [he’s] changed.”
He's not the only one. While DWTS has helped launch a few fledgling careers (see: Julianne Hough), it's perhaps best known for the roster of troubled celebs who've tried to use the show as a springboard back into viewers’ good graces. It hasn't always worked. If the previous contestants on this list are any indication, Lochte, who stands in ninth place after the season 23 opener, has a long slog ahead of him.
In 2013, the Food Network axed Deen’s contract amid allegations that the celebrity chef used racial slurs in the workplace. In 2015, Deen attempted a redemption tour, ending with the 21st season of DWTS, where she and partner Louis van Amstel consistently got the lowest number of votes from viewers and judges. After she was eliminated, Deen told ET she was “relieved” to be off the show.
The TV mom became wildly famous after the airing of “Jon and Kate Plus 8” and “Kate Plus Eight," reality shows that trailed Gosselin's family after she gave birth to sextuplets. The shows were incredibly popular and ran for nine combined seasons, but Gosselin—who once famously chastised her now ex-husband for breathing too loudly—brought her polarizing personality to the DWTS set.
Her stint on the dance floor failed to change public sentiment. She was easily the least popular contestant on the show’s 10th season, partially due to behind-the-scenes video segments that showed her clashing with partner Tony Dovolani. The duo was eliminated in the fifth week.
Palin joined the 11th season of DWTS with the promise that winning would be a “big middle finger to all the people who hate my mom [Sarah Palin] and me.”
She did well, finishing third with partner Mark Ballas, but it wasn’t the “F you” to critics she’d hoped it would be. During the taping, Palin received multiple death threats and packages containing a “mysterious white powder." (The powder was later found to be harmless.)
The Lethal Weapon actor is one of the most eccentric (and worst at budgeting) public figures of all time, and his 21st season DWTS appearance did little to change that. When he and partner Anna Trebunskaya were voted off in week four, Busey gave a rambling goodbye speech, in which he insisted he wasn’t really leaving.
What’s Busey up to now? A July 2016 report from the Oklahoma City news station KFOR found that the actor landed a gig helping Uber deliver ice cream around the city. Probably not the comeback he was hoping for.
Dick has waged a long, public battle with substance abuse. The comedian’s earnest, outsider’s approach to the season 16 competition made him a fan favorite, and he finished seventh with partner Sharna Burgess. Invited to the season finale, according to multiple reports he was was kicked out of the taping for erratic, "eyebrow-raising behavior." He subsequently re-entered rehab.
Another celebrity whose legacy has been tainted by substance abuse, the Hoff’s most widely seen recent performance, perhaps, is a 2007 home video of the Baywatch star in a drunken haze. Alas, he didn't have enough time to burnish his image on the show: In 2010, Hasselhoff and partner Kym Johnson were the first couple eliminated from DWTS’s eleventh season—just weeks after the actor’s Comedy Central roast. Ouch.