Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte may face a new Brazilian challenge: the samba.
The embattled gold-medal winner, subject to derision and a police charge that he filed a false report alleging a robbery at gunpoint while in Rio, is the celebrity lightning rod of the newest crop of Dancing With the Stars pairings revealed Tuesday on Good Morning America.
The varied celebrity field, which takes to the dance floor on ABC Sept. 12 (8 ET/PT), includes another Olympic gold-medalist, gymnast Laurie Hernandez; former presidential candidate Rick Perry; Twitter-dominating model Amber Rose; and Marcia Brady herself, Maureen McCormick.
There’s big news on the professional side, with the return of fan favorites Maksim Chmerkovskiy after four seasons away; six-time champ Derek Hough; and the show’s first consecutive winner, Cheryl Burke, who will dance with Lochte.
For years, the competition had asked Lochte to participate, the swimmer tells USA TODAY, but training previously took priority.
“Now that Rio is over, I have some down time finally where I can do stuff outside the pool. And so they reached out again, and I agreed,” he says. “I love that competitive edge, and I can transfer that over to Dancing With the Stars, because you’re going to have to train every day and then you have that one shot to really compete.”
Lochte, a member of the gold-medal-winning U.S. freestyle relay team, says he didn’t have second thoughts about participating after controversy erupted around his claim of being robbed after a late-night party in Rio and believes many people may not know what he’s really like.
“Hopefully, this show will definitely bring out my personality, you know, laid back, go with the flow, (a) loving and caring person that likes to have fun and just enjoys the moment,” he says.
Other celebrity-pro pairings also include Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy; Hernandez and Maksim’s brother, Valentin; Perry and Emma Slater; McCormick and Artem Chignitsev; Little Women: LA star Terra Jole and Sasha Farber; Taxi’s Marilu Henner and Hough; rapper and TV host Vanilla Ice and Witney Carson; recently retired NFL star receiver Calvin Johnson and Lindsay Arnold; actor Jake T. Austin (The Fosters, Wizards of Waverly Place) and Jenna Johnson; singer-songwriter-producer Babyface and Allison Holker; race car driver James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess; and actress-singer Jana Kramer (One Tree Hill) and Gleb Savchenko.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Bill Keveney