Tonya Harding has joined Dancing with the Stars. Good Morning America officially announced that the 47-year-old former Olympic figure skater will join fellow athletes NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former MLB player Johnny Damon, NFL star Josh Norman, and fellow Olympians Mirai Nagasu, Chris Mazdzer, Jennie Finch, Jamie Anderson, and Adam Rippon for the long-running reality show’s first-ever themed season.
Harding will be paired with popular Dancing with the Stars pro dancer Sasha Farber for the 26th season of the ABC celebrity ballroom competition. Tonya’s casting on Dancing with the Stars comes exactly one year after her skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan, competed on the show. Kerrigan, who was paired with pro dancer Artem Chigvintsev, was the sixth star eliminated from the competition last spring.
After the Good Morning America cast reveal was made, Dancing with the Stars pro dancer Sasha Farer posted to Instagram to tell fans he is happy to be paired with Tonya Harding.
“I am beyond excited and honored to be dancing with Tonya Harding this season on @dancingabc I can’t wait for you all to see her moves. What should our team name be? #tonyaharding,” the Dancing with the Stars pro dancer wrote to his 330,000 followers.
— Dancing with the Stars (@DancingABC) April 13, 2018
The fact that Tonya Harding is being celebrated with a spot on the hit ABC reality show did not go unnoticed by Dancing with the Stars fans, who questioned the casting move. Several fans took to Twitter to comment on the controversial casting of Tonya Harding, while others joked that this season’s contestants better watch their knees. A few fans pointed out that it has been over 20 years since Tonya Harding’s infamous incident and that it’s time to move on.
ABC has not commented on the Tonya Harding casting controversy, but you can see some of the Dancing with the Stars fans’ tweets below.
Have people forgotten what Tonya Harding did to Nancy Kerrigan? Why is she being celebrated and part of this show? I don’t get it. #DWTS
— Mike Mason (@MikeMason830) April 13, 2018
Pretty low of @DancingABC to invite Tonya Harding, who attacked Nancy Kerrigan, such a sweet member of the DWTS family, to compete this season. Still a fan. But that’s pretty low.
— Erin Armour (@ErinsIsADancer) April 13, 2018
@DancingABC well I won't be watching DWTS this season, I have no use for Tonya Harding who has no right being showcased anywhere other than in a jail cell
— Robert Stevens (@bsnevetsinc) April 13, 2018
tonya harding is on dancing with the stars. Are we sure a competitive atmosphere is the right place for her?
— A-Train (@aaronLebeahm) April 13, 2018
Last year was Nancy Kerrigan. This year we have Tonya Harding. Guessing in a future season we will see Jeff Gillooly? Someone tell Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu to watch their knees. #FridayThe13th #DWTS
— Kevin Toy (@kevintoy888) April 13, 2018
More than two decades ago, Tonya Harding made headlines in an Olympic figure skating scandal when her then-husband, Jeff Gillooly, orchestrated a violent attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit in January of 1994.
At the time, Harding received three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $160,000 fine, and three years later that he was banned for life by the U.S. Figure Skating Figure Skating Association from “sanctioned” events for her involvement in the scandal.
After the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding was shunned by the skating community, but in recent years has tried to rehab her reputation. Tonya Harding was recently the subject of the recent hit big screen movie I, Tonya, which starred Margot Robbie. Now, Harding’s role on Dancing with the Stars will allow fans to see another side of her.
Tonya Harding long claimed her innocence in the Kerrigan attack, but on the recent ABC News special Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story, Tonya admitted that she overheard her husband and his friend Shawn Eckardt as they schemed to “take somebody out” to increase her chances of making the U.S. Olympic team ahead of the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer.
You can see the Dancing with the Stars cast reveal below.
Dancing with the Stars: Athletes premieres Monday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.