Dancing With the Stars season 29 premieres on September 14, and Carole Baskin is this year’s most controversial DWTS competitor. Baskin became a household name when Tiger King was released on Netflix both for her eccentric personality as well as the way in which the docu-series referred to the mysterious disappearance of her first husband.
In the wake of Tiger King‘s viral success, the case around Baskin’s first husband Don Lewis was actually reopened for additional investigation; Lewis disappeared in 1997.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told Fox News in a statement, “We’re committed to this investigation. We are actively working it and we have some new detectives assigned to the case that are fielding tips. Anyone with information about this case is asked to give us a call at 813-247-8200 and we will investigate it thoroughly. We don’t have all the answers for the investigation that happened in 1997 but we are fully committed to the investigation in 2020 and finding answers for Mr. Lewis’ family.”
Baskin Denied Any Involvement in Her Husband’s Disappearance Following Accusations From ‘Tiger King’ Fans
During the Tiger King series, Baskin’s nemesis Joe Exotic said that he believed that Baskin murdered her husband and that she was responsible for his unsolved disappearance. Fans of the show took his accusation and ran with it, speculating without evidence that Baskin killed her husband and fed him to her tigers to dispose of the evidence. The allegations evolved into a viral meme and were even the inspiration behind a trending song on TikTok.
Baskin addressed the allegations, denying that she had anything to do with Lewsis’s cold case disappearance. In a statement, Fox News reports that Baskin said, “There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the series not only does not do any of that, but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers. As part of that, it has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don in 1997.”
Baskin Hopes That Her Time on ‘DWTS’ Will Put Attention Back on Big Cats
When it was announced on Good Morning America that Baskin would be a part of the season 29 Dancing With the Stars cast, she admitted that she was hoping it would be an opportunity for people to get to know the real her, as well as a chance to refocus attention on the efforts of Big Cat Rescue, her wildlife sanctuary.
In an interview with People, Baskin said, “I feel like this is an opportunity to give light to big cats and remind people that they don’t belong in cages. I just keep telling myself that this is the best way to get the message out there. To be as good as I can so that I can stay on as long as I possibly can.”
When asked about the type of competitor she plans to be on the dance floor, Baskin revealed to GMA, “I am competitive, but I am competitive with myself.” Nevertheless, fellow contestant Johnny Weir told Entertainment Tonight that he doesn’t want to get on her bad side. He said, “I did watch Tiger King. I was one of the many millions that just kind of sat with their jaws on the floor watching Tiger King. Having lived a huge part of my life in the public eye and in the spotlight, I know how things can be twisted and made into a fantastic story. So I can’t say that I know Carole Baskin. I also know that I can’t judge Carole Baskin based on what I saw in a Netflix series that was obviously edited against her to a certain degree. But also, with that said, I hope I don’t cross her because she has a lot of big cats that she could sic on me.”
Baskin will be dancing to “Eye of the Tiger” for her premiere DWTS performance.
Dancing With the Stars season 29 premieres on Monday, September 14 at 8/7c on ABC.