Season 26 of Dancing With the Stars is featuring a special edition of the series, which solely focuses on athletes as the contestants. There are also only 10 competitors this season, who are matched with pro dancers, and there are only 4 episodes to prove one of them is worthy of the mirrorball trophy. One of the big contestants this season is figure skater Adam Rippon, who did not medal in his final event at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but he did manage to win the hearts of fans across America, as reported by TIME. He also was able to take home the team bronze medal at the Winter Olympics this year as well.
According to Rippon’s Dancing With the Stars bio, his personality has truly made him stand out to fans. His ABC bio reads, “Known for his refreshing candor and wit, his rise to fame on the global stage has provided him with a platform to speak out in support of LGBTQ rights and the freedom to be oneself. His passion and charm have made him an inspiration to young and old alike, and he has quickly become a role model and icon to millions.” Surely, Rippon fans are cheerleading for his success on DWTS. Get to know more about Rippon and his DWTS gig in our 5 Fast Facts below.
1. Adam Rippon’s Boyfriend Jussi-Pekka Kajaala Met Him on Tinder
Adam Rippon is in a relationship with boyfriend Jussi-Pekka Kajaala, according to E! News. Rippon told People that Kajaala hails from Finland and that the two actually met on the dating app Tinder. Prior to meeting Kajaala on Twitter, Rippon also admitted to trying out Grindr as well.
As of early April 2018, Rippon told People that he and Kajaala had “been talking for the past seven months” and then “started to hang out a little bit more, because we were both really busy.” Kajaala is not a figure skater, like Rippon. Rippon first came out as a gay man in October 2015, during an interview with SKATING magazine.
Previously, Rippon was in a relationship with a man for two years, but he decided to call it quits over the summer, before the Olympic games. He explained to People that, “This was my third Olympic cycle and I was like, ‘I cannot have any regrets.’ Everything was great with him, he was a great guy, but I felt like I really needed to focus on myself. I was lucky that my ex-boyfriend is such a nice person that we’re still friends now.” And, in March 2018, Rippon talked about how he has embraced the single life as well, explaining to People that, “I think a lot of people are afraid to be single and I fully embraced it, because I have really invested a lot of time into thinking about: What do I want to do? What’s important to me? What gives me the most energy? … If I can meet a guy that falls into that and is supportive of that, that’s great.”
2. Rippon Is Good Friends With Fellow DWTS Competitor Mirai Nagasu
Both Rippon and fellow contestant Mirai Nagasu appeared on the Good Morning America cast reveal for season 26 of DWTS. There, the two joked about their friendship and their “friendly” competition towards each other. Rippon said that he’s going to leave it all out on the dance floor when it comes to his aggression, though. In the past, in addition to being friends with Nagasu, he has also helped to choreograph programs for her, as she is a skater as well.
Prior to the announcement of this season’s DWTS cast, Nagasu dished about how she would love the opportunity to be on the show. During the 2-18 Winter Olympics, she dished to USA Today that, “I would like to be on Dancing With the Stars because I want to be a star. I made history here by landing the first triple axel for a U.S. lady at the Olympics so I think that is a big deal. I hope I get more opportunities to let my personality just shine. I smiled in the middle of my program. It is really rare for me but I enjoyed myself and I thought of this as my audition (for DWTS).”
When Rippon and Nagasu recently competed as a team, together at the Olympics, Nagasu told USA Today that she credits herself with earning the team win. She said that, “It’s been a long three weeks, and we got here and got to walk in the opening ceremonies and then I saved the team event, with Adam (Rippon) and the Shibutanis. We were about to lose our medals so today I put my medal in my pocket and said ‘Mirai you have done your job already and this is all just icing.’”
3. Adam Rippon Rejected the Olympics 2018 White House Invitation
Rippon is an activist in addition to being a figure skater. He has spoken out about Vice President Mike Pence and rejected an invitation to the White House as well. On April 27, 2018, when discussing his decision to skip the White House visit, Rippon tweeted, “Olympians from the 2018 Games have been invited to go to the White House today. I will not be going. I will not stand with people who discriminate against those that they perceive as different. In lieu of going to DC, I have donated to a few of my favorite causes.” And he wasn’t the only Olympian to skip out on the trip.
Gus Kenworthy, a good friend of Rippon, also skipped the opportunity, explaining to his Twitter followers that, “All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet the President after the Games. Today is this year’s visit and USOC spokesperson says he’s never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real.” Athletes Lindsey Vonn, Erin Hamlin, and Chloe Kim also denied their invitations.
As for Rippon’s disdain for Mike Pence, the Indy Star reported that the fight is over gay rights. In a January 2017 interview with USA Today’s Christine Brennan, Rippon called out Pence for funding gay conversion therapy. Rippon also stated that, “I don’t think he has a real concept of reality. To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory.”
4. Jenna Johnson Is Rippon’s Pro Partner on “Dancing With the Stars”
Jenna Johnson has primarily been a troupe dancer on DWTS. She was previously promoted to a pro contender, but didn’t last long in the competition. Perhaps this could be her time to shine. On the GMA reveal with Rippon, he joked that Johnson will have her hands full with him this season.
Johnson recently ended the Dancing With the Stars tour, which suffered a small mishap while on the road. People had previously reported they had to cancel one of their shows after one of their tour buses was involved in a fatal car accident in Iowa. Fortunately, the dancers and crew were all okay, though some suffered from minor injuries. An alert to DWTS fans was posted online after the incident, which read, “Given this unforeseen accident, and the fact that the safety and health of our cast and crew is of the utmost importance, tonight’s show at Stephens Auditorium in Ames, IA has been cancelled. To anyone involved in the accident, the entire cast sends their best wishes for a speedy recovery, and their deepest apologies to all of the fans who have been waiting to see the show tonight.”
Currently, Johnson is in a relationship with DWTS pro Val Chmerkovskiy, who has been performing and touring with his brother Maks and sister-in-law, Peta Murgatroyd. All three are fan-favorites from Dancing With the Stars. Unfortunately, none of them were able to be a part of this season’s show. Hopefully, they’ll be on board for season 27.
5. Sally Field Tried to Hook Rippon Up with Her Son
In February 2018, award-winning actress Sally Field and her son, Sam Greisman, tried to hit up Rippon on Twitter and Greisman even posted a conversation he had with Field about the skater. Greisman told his mother that Rippon was his celebrity crush and her response was, “Sam … he’s insanely pretty. Find a way.”
Rippon and Greisman finally ended up meeting at the Human Rights Campaign 2018 Los Angeles Dinner. There, Rippon was honored with the Visibility Award, according to E! News. And, according to ABC News, Greisman credited his famous mom with arranging the meeting.
Greisman works as a writer and a director in the entertainment industry. He is one of Field’s three sons. And, when Rippon appeared on an episode of The View, he said that he had reached out to Field and Greisman to offer them tickets to “Stars on Ice,” which he was joining.