Bonner Bolton is fired up about how he was treated on Dancing With the Stars—and he’s firing back at the show’s judges and producers for the unfair video package they put together ahead of his elimination from ABC celebrity ballroom competition. In a Facebook Live interview with Entertainment Tonight (which you can see in its entirety below) Bonner slammed the DWTS judges’ panel, which includes Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Julianne Hough. Bonner said he has no respect for any of the DWTS judges except for Julianne.
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Bolton clearly had a rocky experience on Dancing With the Stars, but he especially took issue with how he was treated on his final night of the show. Bonner and his partner Sharna Burgess were eliminated on Week 8 of the ABC competition and their pre-dance package focused on an argument they had during rehearsals, which made it seem like the pro bull rider walked out in the middle of the practice.
“I was disappointed in the way they showed my package with me and Sharna,” Bonner told ET’s Lauren Zima.
“Somehow we all forgot that I got a broke neck and I’m not a pro dancer that day.”
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Bolton said he became frustrated by how he was represented on the show, citing the “crotch-gate” scandal with his pro partner and the out-of-context playful comments that he made to female dancers that didn’t show their side of the conversation. Bolton said he took his portrayal as a personal blow against his culture, explaining that cowboys are held to a really high standard and that they aim to treat every lady and woman with respect.
“I think they wanted to make me look about as bad as they could my last week there,” Bonner said of the Dancing With the Stars powers-that-be.
“I’m not really sure why [they wanted to make me look bad] and I don’t really know why the comments that were made were so disrespectful toward me when I was being judged on the dance floor because I’m probably the least advantaged contestant on that show who’s shown the most improvement, and I’ve worked as hard if not harder than any contestant on that dance floor.”
Bolton also addressed judge Len Goodman’s tirade against him, in which the judge said the pro bull rider should never have made it so far in the competition.
“You get frustrated, please don’t blame the judges,” Len told Bonner. “Blame the viewers. You’ve gone a bridge too far. I’m sorry but you should have been…”
Bolton said Len’s comment was “all backwards and twisted.”
“I wasn’t frustrated because I was still on the show, I was frustrated because Sharna got mad at me for not knowing my steps in that package, so they misinterpreted that,” Bonner explained.
“And just to flat out be so disrespectful to say I don’t need to be there anymore was really a cut-down to me and I don’t really respect it or respect him or any of those judges on that panel except for Julianne. She’s the only one that gave a real honest answer and fair critique all season towards me. And she wasn’t always favorable towards me, but I felt like she was fair. I think after my third dance there, pretty much all those judges had wrote me off and gave me pretty harsh scores all season.”
Bolton went on to say he’s not like the other contestants on Dancing With the Stars. Bonner’s competitors for the mirrorball trophy included NFL star Rashad Jennings and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.
“I’m an old broke down cowboy who broke his neck,” Bonner explained. “I’m not a performer who’s been performing my whole life on stage.”
Bonner said he remembers when Dancing With the Stars first started and it was about people with no experience or dance background. He said he was amped to get on the show because that’s what he remembered.
“But getting there was so much different,” Bolton revealed.
“I don’t know when their fanbase and judges got so harsh on contestants that didn’t know how to dance, because to me I thought that’s what the show is about.”
Bolton said his finale night critiques felt like “a really personal cut-down” and that the judges “coordinate with the producers and ABC with how the packages are shown.”
“They see all this stuff before it’s shown and they decide what they’re gonna say before [the dance] even happens,” Bonner revealed.
“I know for a fact they obviously had some kind of personal thing toward me which I don’t understand. Maybe they think I’m a major Trump supporter or something like that. I don’t know what gives them that personal feeling toward me to make me look like that in front of America…I’m just doing what they hired me to do, which is come out and dance and I gave it my all and they showed zero respect or appreciation for it pretty much after the third week… I don’t think I can say how I really feel.”
Bonner said he was most angry over the fact that the judges kept saying how stiff he was all season.
“Well I would love for them to break their neck and see how it feels to have that metal in their body.”
“When you have a square metal frame in the main central pivot point of your body that makes your whole body rotate and function from your brain to your motor skills to your speech, it’s extremely hard to make yourself do those dance moves and be coordinated especially when you lost your coordination 100 percent only 16 months ago,” Bolton added.
While he’s upset by how he went out, Bonner told Glamour he’s relieved that he won’t have to dance ever again.
“I don’t appreciate much of what the judges said throughout the whole season to me,” Bolton told Glamour. “I don’t have a lot of respect for it, but I’m thankful for the experience I got to have here, the other people I got to meet, how much I discovered I can move again and inspire others throughout my movement, and the strength that I dug down deep to find and do this.”
You can see Bonner Bolton’s entire Facebook Live chat with ET below.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Stuart Weitzman]