Who is Going to Win Season 28 of ‘Dancing With the Stars’?

Julia Delbel
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dancing with the starsLou Rocco/Walt Disney Television

We’re only a few hours away from the premiere of Dancing With the Stars Season 28. But who has the best chance of winning?


Check out our analyses and predictions below, but be warned: while we won’t be directly naming the pro partners of each celebrity, we will be alluding to things they’ve done in the past as a key part of our predictions. (To see how we figured out who is paired with whom as well as who exactly each celebrity will be dancing with, check this out!) So, this is your spoiler warning!

DWTS Season 28 – Pro Dancers – Keo Motsepe & Daniella Karagach – Promo Shooting – September 11, 2019

Lamar Odom

GettyImages Lamar Odom Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being a former LA Laker in the NBA and an ex-husband of Khloe Kardashian.

Strongest Assets: DWTS didn’t exactly fulfill it’s promise of casting “huge names” for Season 28, but Lamar is definitely one of the more recognizable faces in the lineup.


Biggest Weaknesses: Basketball players don’t have a very good track record on DWTS; the most successful to date has been Rick Fox and he only managed to finish in sixth place. I highly doubt Lamar is going to be the one to break that trend since his enthusiasm about being on the show doesn’t seem to be too high right now. He just really looks like he does not want to be there at all, which generally doesn’t inspire people to vote for you.

I’m not seeing a scenario where Lamar does well on this show and I would not be surprised at all if he was the first to be eliminated.

Karamo Brown

GettyImages Karamo Brown Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being the cultural consultant on Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot.


Strongest Assets: Karamo has a very positive attitude and it’s clear he’s absolutely psyched to be on DWTS. He’s also relatively young and fit so he may have a fair amount of dance potential.

Biggest Weaknesses: The main demographic watching DWTS consists of rural-based, conservative viewers who are middle-aged and over and I’m concerned about Karamo’s level of appeal to this kind of crowd. I don’t think a lot of those people will know him from Queer Eye so this will likely be their first time seeing him and I worry there might be some snap judgements being made here. And if he’s not a natural dancer, I think he could be in trouble since his pro partner is a strong choreographer but one of the show’s weaker teachers.

Karamo is one of my biggest wildcards in this cast. I have no idea how he’s going to be as a dancer or how much of the demo will embrace him. But I’m certainly not counting him out as a possible contender yet.

Kate Flannery

GettyImages Kate Flannery Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Playing Meredith Palmer on the hit comedy series The Office.

Strongest Assets: Kate will probably be a recognizable figure to a lot of the main demo from being on The Office. She also has a bright, fun personality that is sure to bring joy to the show.

Biggest Weaknesses: Kate is the only celebrity with a brand new pro who the audience hasn’t gotten a chance to connect with yet (the pros are often more popular with the audience than the actual celebrities) and if this was a contributing factor to strong dancer Tinashe being eliminated fourth last year, I don’t have much hope for Kate, who doesn’t come across as a natural mover.

I’m also worried that even though Kate may be one of the more well-known celebrities to the demo, she might not be able to win them over. I say this because comedians – especially female comedians – don’t have a good track record on DWTS. There is a double standard with funny people on this show, women have been almost shunned for making jokes and “not taking the competition seriously enough” while men are more likely to be embraced for their silly antics (see: last season’s first boot vs. winner). It’s awful and sexist but that’s how things tend to go on this show.

I’m sad to say things really aren’t looking so hot for Kate right now and I think she’s probably going to be one of the first contestants to go home.

Ray Lewis

ABC Ray Lewis Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being a former 17-year player for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL.

Strongest Assets: Most football players do well with the main DWTS demo and Ray seems to have some moves already!

Biggest Weaknesses: While he’s not the most controversial figure on the show this season, Ray’s past involvement in a serious scandal may be a turn-off to some voters.

I see Ray making it about halfway. I don’t think he’ll be a trainwreck but not a major stand-out either.

Sailor Brinkley-Cook

GettyImages Sailor Brinkley-Cook Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being a model and the daughter of Christie Brinkley, whom she is filling in for as a contestant on the show last-minute.

Strongest Assets: Sailor’s assets and weaknesses are pretty much the exact opposite to those of her mother, Christie, who she is replacing as a contestant at the last minute due to injury. While Christie was the second-oldest contestant of Season 28 at 65, 21-year-old Sailor is now the youngest of the bunch and won’t have the aches and pains that come with getting older.

Biggest Weaknesses: Christie had probably the most demo appeal of anyone this season, and while Sailor might retain some of it by proxy, most of the audience probably won’t be familiar with her. Sailor is also a model and model’s haven’t traditionally done well on DWTS with the exception of Season 22 winner Nyle DiMarco.

Sailor isn’t the first family member of a contestant to replace them before the start of the season (back in Season 4 Master P replaced his son Mario as a competitor) but I’m pretty sure she’s the replacement with the least amount of catch-up time by far. I think the wow factor of Sailor stepping in this late in the game to learn her first routine is going to get her some votes in the beginning, but she’ll soon have to find other ways to stand out in order to stick around.

James Van Der Beek

ABC James Van Der Beek Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Playing the titular Dawson Leery on Dawson’s Creek as well as a fictionalized version of himself on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.

Strongest Assets: James already has a bit of experience with DWTS; his character on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 competed on a fictional season of the show and won! In all seriousness I don’t think that will play much of a role, but it’s clear that experience made him eager to compete in real life. He also has strong demographic appeal for being a former teenage heartthrob and being a big family man now will definitely be appealing to those in the demo who aren’t already familiar with him.

Biggest Weaknesses: James’s height may end up working against him, as it often does for the taller guys on the show (though his pro partner has had experience with this challenge before).

Something tells me that James may end up doing quite well on this show. He has the potential to be a pretty good dancer but even if he turns out not to be one he’s still going to have people rallying behind him for being a handsome family man with a positive attitude, and that can go a looooong way on DWTS.

Sean Spicer

GettyImages Sean Spicer Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being a former White House Press Secretary.

Strongest Assets: Sean is without a doubt one of the biggest names in the cast and will inevitably have a portion of the audience voting for him just to spite people who are upset about his casting. He also has a pro partner who has never finished below the top 8 on DWTS.

Biggest Weaknesses: A lot of people are already rooting against Sean, with some trying to figure out who exactly to vote for in order to send him home right away. He also just does not seem to have much potential as a dancer.

I don’t think Sean is going to go the distance on DWTS but something tells me he won’t be out right away either, even if he turns out to be the worst dancer of the lot. He’ll probably stick around for a few weeks and then get the boot.

Mary Wilson

ABC Mary Wilson Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being the longest-standing member of girl group The Supremes.

Strongest Assets: Mary is probably going to be another contestant with a lot of nostalgic demo appeal. She’s also engaging and funny but in a subtle, cute way that the DWTS audience tends enjoy and accept coming from older women.

Biggest Weaknesses: Mary is the oldest contestant of the season (she’s 75, ten years senior from the next-oldest celebrity in Christie) so let’s face it: she probably won’t be able to nail much of the dance technique the judges will be looking for.

I see Mary being Season 28′s “loveable oldie”. She won’t make it to the end, but she’ll probably be the last of the low-hanging fruit to go.

Kel Mitchell

ABC Kel Mitchell Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being an original cast member of sketch-comedy series All That and playing Kel Kimble on Kenan & Kel.

Strongest Assets: Kel has had plenty of dance experience prior to DWTS and even though it wasn’t ballroom, we’ve seen those experienced in other styles have a leg-up on the competition when it comes to learning dances. So yeah, he’s our main male “ringer” of the season. On top of that, Kel is laid-back and chill but also knows how to have fun. I think the main demo might be just a little too old to have been part of the All That fanbase but I’m sure Kel is going to be one of those contestants who they may not have known before DWTS, but will quickly fall in love with as they watch him on the show.

Biggest Weaknesses: Nothing about Kel really stands out as a detriment but there’s always the possibility the audience may not want a contestant with previous dance experience to win which could hurt his chances.

For reasons I’ll soon explain, I think a female celebrity will be the Season 28 champion. But if any guy is going to get the win, it’ll be Kel.

Ally Brooke

ABC Ally Brooke Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being a member of recently-disbanded girl group Fifth Harmony.

Strongest Assets: Ally is young, fit, and likeable. And as a recording artist and former member of girl group Fifth Harmony, she clearly has some musical abilities that often help contestants in the ballroom.

Biggest Weaknesses: Being a former member of a girl group, an assumption about Ally that has already been flying around the internet is that she must be a good dancer. However, that definitely isn’t the case; she was actually known for being the worst dancer in Fifth Harmony by far. (Hopefully she’ll turn out to be a fast learner when it comes to ballroom!) The thing is, despite not actually being a naturally gifted dancer, people – as they have already started doing – are going to take one look at her career history and assume she is. So if it turns out Ally isn’t amazing at ballroom from the get-go, she’s likely to be seen as a massive letdown and a prime candidate for a “shock elimination” mid-season. This definitely isn’t fair to Ally, but it’s how things have gone in the past on the show so we’re putting this warning out there now.

We’re not quite counting Ally out just yet, but coming across as a little quieter than some of the other contestants and less ringer-y than many might expect might spell trouble for her.

Lauren Alaina

ABC Lauren Alaina Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Finishing as the runner-up on American Idol Season 10 and going on to have a successful career as a country artist.

Strongest Assets: Lauren is a young and sweet country singer, a profession which has MASSIVE DWTS demo appeal. She’s even appeared on the show before, singing her song “Ladies in the 90′s” for a dance performance on the show last year. Her musicality should also help her when it comes to the actual dancing part of the show.

Biggest Weaknesses: Lauren is coming in with pretty much everything a DWTS contestant needs to cement themself as a frontrunner. The biggest potential problem here lies in her pro partner, who has a history of “checking out” when it comes to choreographing at times and a tendency to play the sex card way too often in his routines.

So yeah, on paper Lauren has a great chance of winning the season, and I think the biggest factor as to whether or not she does is what her partner does for her. If he puts his all into giving Lauren strong choreo that shows a variety of sides to her, she could very well be the champion of Season 28. I just don’t have a lot of faith at the moment…

Hannah Brown

GettyImages Hannah Brown Dancing With the Stars

Known For: Being the most recent lead on The Bachelorette.

Strongest Assets: Hannah has “Bachelor Nation” behind her, which is a fanbase that has proven to have a lot of power on DWTS. And coming off of her crazy season as Bachelorette, who doesn’t want to see her thrive? But unlike the majority of Bachelor alumni-turned DWTS contestants, Hannah can actually dance and has had training in the art. She also has a pro partner who has quickly become a fan favorite but hasn’t won a Mirrorball Trophy yet, and yes, this matters to fans; the last four winning teams all included a pro dancer who had yet to win a season of the show.

Biggest Weaknesses: I’m not seeing a lot of obvious weaknesses in Hannah yet; the only one would be if the audience decides they’d rather see someone without any previous formal training take home the trophy.

Hannah is absolutely going to be a frontrunner to win this competition. There’s really nothing that would indicate her not doing well on DWTS.

So…Who Will Win DWTS?

Based on everything I listed above, I think the top three frontrunners to win Season 28 are Kel MitchellLauren Alaina, and Hannah Brown. I’m definitely not saying this will be our top 3 (we usually end up with someone with little to no shot in there) but these are the three contestants with the highest potential for the #1 spot when all is said and done.

I’m going to say Kel is the least likely of the three to win, simply because of the pro situation. I just mentioned that the last four winning teams have all included pros who had yet to win a season of DWTS, and I have a feeling that trend will continue. And if that’s true, Kel won’t be winning this season. Why? Because all of the current female pros have won in the past, and on top of this, a female celebrity hasn’t won since Laurie Hernandez in Season 23 back in fall 2016.

On the other hand, the pro situation poses a benefit to Lauren and Hannah, both of whom are female celebrities paired with male partners who have yet to win a Mirrorball. I think who ultimately wins is going to come down to two factors: whether or not the audience decides they care about ringer-dom, and how well their pros do with choreography.

I think the demo appeal of both ladies will outweigh those who are voting for or against dance experience so the pros may ultimately turn out to be the biggest factor. And right now, I have much more faith in Hannah’s partner than Lauren’s to give her good choreography and a good “journey” the audience will eat up. (I’m actually so concerned with Lauren’s partner’s ability to do this I actually think Kel will place above her, even though I see him as less likely to actually win.)

So that makes Hannah Brown my pre-season winner pick for Dancing With the Stars Season 28. You can watch Hannah and the rest of the contestants perform their first dances tonight at 8/7 c on ABC.

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