Athletes Have Dominated 'Dancing With the Stars' in 26 Seasons—Who’s Next?

11 athletes have been crowned champions so far

Rashad Jennings New York Giants Dancing With The Stars mobile
Rashad Jennings, former New York Giants running back / Jeff Zelevansky/Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Boxing legend Evander Holyfield and NFL great Jerry Rice paved the way for athletes on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars during the first two seasons in 2005 and 2006. Emmitt Smith famously traded his football cleats in for dancing shoes in Season 3, eventually becoming the first athlete to win. Since Smith’s achievement, 10 more athletes have been crowned champions and earned the show’s coveted Mirrorball trophy.


The athletes have brought a special kind of energy to the long-running reality show competition, so much so that ABC turned Season 26 into an athletes-only season, with energetic Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon defeating fellow finalists Josh Norman and Tonya Harding. 


Now entering its 27th season, DWTS has revealed its newest competitors, which include three more athletes vying for the title: Super Bowl champion DeMarcus Ware, Paralympic skier Danelle Umstead and Olympic champion gymnast Mary Lou Retton.

The trio of athletes this season will compete against social media model Alexis Ren, radio show host Bobby Bones, Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch, Bachelorette star "Grocery Store Joe" Amabile, Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider, actor Juan Pablo Di Pace, actor Milo Manheim, Facts of Life star Nancy McKeon, host Nikki Glaser and singer Tinashe. 


Here’s a full list of athletes who have won DWTS:


  1. Emmitt Smith (Season 3, football player)
  2. Apolo Anton Ohno (Season 4, speed skater)
  3. Hélio Castroneves (Season 5, race car driver)
  4. Kristi Yamaguchi (Season 6, figure skater)
  5. Shawn Johnson (Season 8, gymnast)
  6. Hines Ward (Season 12, football player)
  7. Donald Driver (Season 14, football player)
  8. Meryl Davis (Season 18, ice dancer)
  9. Laurie Hernandez (Season 23, gymnast)
  10. Rashad Jennings (Season 24, football player)
  11. Adam Rippon (Season 26, figure skater)


Here's Rippon slaying a contemporary dance last season:

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