Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba is explaining why she looked kind of horrified when pro dancer Artem Chigvintsev and his partner Kaitlyn Bristowe hugged her during Monday’s live show.
Carrie Ann has been hard on the couple this season, but after their Britney Spears- inspired Argentine tango, she gave them a standing ovation, positive feedback, and a perfect 10 score. In turn, Artem leaped across the ballroom to hug his former girlfriend as Kaitlyn ran beside him to share the love.
Viewers saw the stunned look on Carrie Ann’s face during the awkward exchange, but it turns out it wasn’t because she felt weird hugging her ex following his several weeks of frustration over her judging style.
Instead, Carrie Ann revealed to reporters after the show that her apprehension to lean in for a bear hug was all about the coronavirus pandemic.
“I went from joy and elation [over how well they’d done] to ‘Don’t come near me!'” Carrie Ann said, per TV Insider.
“I was like, ‘Oh, maybe this is a joke. Maybe they’re going to come over and then, not come over, but they came over, and [we hugged]. …They’d done such a great job and I’m so proud of them and I’m so happy for them.”
The veteran judge added that everyone on the Dancing with the Stars cast and crew is regularly tested for COVID-19, but in the moment, her uneasy face came because she was thinking, “don’t do that again! COVID is no joke!”
Kaitlyn explained that she felt compelled to “hug it out” with the longtime DWTS judge because she now thinks her tough commentary pushed her to focus even harder and get her and Artem to where they are now: the semifinals on the ABC celebrity ballroom competition.
The hug-fest came amid online speculation that Carrie Ann was still holding a grudge with Artem over their past relationship. The two split in 2008 after nearly three years of dating.
Artem told Us Weekly that his relationship drama with Carrie Ann was all ‘”so long ago” and that his ex has “no personal agenda” at all. Carrie Ann has moved on to new love Fabien Viteri, while Artem is engaged to former WWE star Nikki Bella and just welcomed his first child with her.
The Russian dancer said he’s happy it all worked out, and it all ended up in “a very happy place.”