When the Dancing with the Stars Season 22 cast was announced and the folks over at Bovada began tracking bets on who would win the mirrorball, Paige VanZant was sitting in the No. 6 spot at 12-1 odds. Keeping Paige company with identical odds were Dancing with the Stars Season 22 competitors Mischa Barton and deaf model Nyle DiMarco. Here are the people who ranked higher initially along with their odds at the time.
Wanya Morris, former member of Boyz II Men: 5-2
Von Miller, Denver Broncos linebacker and Super Bowl 50 MVP: 6-1
Antonio Brown, All-Pro NFL wide receiver: 7-1
Kim Fields, actress, Facts of Life and Real Housewives of Atlanta: 7.5-1
Geraldo Rivera, talk show host and Fox News reporter: 7.5-1
Keeping VanZant company at No. 6 on the list of Dancing with the Stars favorites for the season were Mischa Barton (The OC and The Sixth Sense) and deaf model Nyle DiMarco (winner of the last season of America’s Next Top Model).
This surprised many fans of Paige because of the age of three of the top five Dancing with the Stars competitors. Typically, older contestants have a more difficult time, and the five competitors with the best odds for Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars included two who are in their 40s and one, Geraldo Rivera, who is in his 70s. The oldest person to win the dancing competition so far was Donny Osmond in Season 9. He was 52. Also perplexing about her initial odds was the fact that she is a UFC fighter, and athletes usually fare well on Dancing with the Stars. However, the only other two MMA fighters (although they were not active fighters when they competed on the show) didn’t do well — Chuck Liddell placed 11th in Season 9 and Randy Couture placed 11th in Season 19.
Of course, odds change constantly, and such has been the case with Dancing with the Stars. Paige has made her way up the list and is now the odds-on favorite to win Season 22. As of Tuesday afternoon, she was sitting at 5-1 odds. At the writing of this article, she’s improved even more, with fan opinion of her winning Dancing with the Stars having strengthened, bringing her to 2-1 odds.
It’s likely that this improvement can be attributed to a greater awareness of who Paige is and the experience she brings to Dancing with the Stars that very well could carry her to the winner’s circle this year.
Dancing with the Stars fans in general may not have initially known who VanZant was. Even when they did learn that she was a UFC fighter, that may not have screamed “Dancing with the Stars favorite” to them. But she and the other competitors have been doing lots of publicity in the last week or so, and through that publicity, Dancing with the Stars fans have learned things about Paige’s experience with a variety of dancing as well as cheerleading and have given more consideration to factors like age that changed their minds about her chances of winning.
Athletes in general have done well on Dancing with the Stars in the past. This is believed to be the case because they are used to long, difficult hours of training. For many competitors on Dancing with the Stars, the intensity and long hours of practice that are required in order to be a contender for first place is shocking and exhausting. Some are not willing or able to put in the long hours. It takes a toll physically and mentally, which is also why youth is on the side of Dancing with the Stars winners. VanZant has both qualities on her side.
Check out this video of Paige and her Dancing with the Stars professional dance partner Mark Ballas as they talk about UFC, dancing, and how they come together for Paige as she competes this season. And tune in Monday night at 8 p.m. ET to check out the premier of Dancing with the Stars Season 22.
[Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images]