America loves a comeback story.

Hot on the heels of his Rio robbery scandal, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is opting to step into the spotlight instead of shy away from it, beginning his stint on Dancing With the Stars in tonight's premiere. After his 10-month suspension from the USA Swimming and the United States Olympic Committee, the gold medalist is hoping to rehab his image in the ballroom, but will his fancy footwork actually help him win back the support of the public?

Ryan isn't the first controversial contestant to compete for the mirrorball trophy as a a few celebrities before him have joined the ABC reality hit competition after making headlines. While it's too early to tell if Ryan's time on DWTS will help rehab his image, here's how it paid off for the other celebs who attempted to rumba their way back into the public's good graces...

Paula Deen, Louis Van Amstel


Paula Deen The former Food Network star and cooking queen found herself at the center of a major scandal in 2013 over her use of the N-word, losing her show and sponsorships. And while she turned down DWTS several times, she decided to do it post-scandal in season 21…and promptly accused the judges of not liking her after her early elimination, telling us, "It was apparent that they weren't crazy about me being here." Oof.

Kate Gosselin The icy Kate Plus 8 star went on the show after her high-profile split from husband Jon Gosselin in an attempt to soften her image. Um, it did not work? "Everyone couldn't be more relieved," fessed a show source after she was eliminated. "We all had to walk on eggshells around [Kate]. At least we don't have to worry about where our eyes can or can't drift off to now."

Bristol Palin, Gorilla, Dancing with the Stars


Bristol Palin Thanks to her mother Sarah Palin, Bristol was the target of a lot of negativity during her first season on the show, which included a real scare when the FBI came to the studio after a suspicious package was found. Then of course there was the infamous gorilla suit costume. Still, Bristol came in third…with some fans calling foul play (there were allegations of voter fraud) as she constantly received low score from the judges.

Despite all of the drama from her first season of DWTS, the mother of two returned for the All-Star season. 

Nancy Grace The opinionated TV host had quite the drama-filled run in 2011: she had a wardrobe malfunction AND an alleged on-cam fart, y'all. 

Leah Remini, DWTS


Leah Remini After making a highly publicized exit from Scientology in 2013, the King of Queens star joined DWTS. "I'm going through a personal and big change for me and my family," Remini said on the show.  "The church is looking for me to fail to they can say to their parishioners, you see what happens when you leave the church? They're waiting for me to fail."

And while she didn't win, Leah was a fan-favorite, and has returned several times to serve as Erin Andrews' replacement as co-host.

Andy Dick: While the comedian lasted longer than many predicted, he called his time on the show better than his many trips to rehab. Still, he was reportedly escorted out of the finale of his season for erratic behavior.

Dancing With the Stars, Sadie Robertson, Mark Ball


Sadie Robertson The Duck Dynasty star joined the show after her grandfather Phil Robertson made headlines for his anti-gay remarks in a GQ profile, which landed him a short suspension from the A&E reality show. Still, it didn't impact Sadie's time on the show, with the conservative teen coming in second place.

Lil' Kim The rapper was the franchise's first-ever contestant to serve jail time (one year and one day for lying to a federal grand jury), and went on to be a fan-favorite in season eight, coming in fifth place.

Heather Mills: Vilified as the estranged wife of Paul McCartney heading into DWTS, the model and charity campaigner, who has a prosthetic leg, Heather came in seventh place, managing to win over some viewers.

DWTS premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share