The Masked Dancer season 1 is underway, and with all of the competition’s contestants introduced to the viewers watching at home, fans are hard at work piecing together clues in search of the characters’ true celebrity identities. After the Cotton Candy’s stunning debut performance, fans think the performer behind the mask is actress and former Dancing With the Stars professional dancer and judge Julianne Hough.
Cotton Candy’s first performance of the season was a highly-skilled lyrical and aerial routine to “Glitter in the Air” by P!nk and it solidified her as an early front runner in the competition.
After the Cotton Candy’s performance, it was time for the celebrity panelists to make their first impression guesses about the contestant’s star identity. Ken Jeong guessed Julianne Hough, and Tisdale agreed that that was a solid guess.
Fans watching at home were all the more convinced that the Cotton Candy is in fact Hough after what many think was a slip up by host Craig Robinson. Testing Jeong’s theory, Robinson said, “Hey Julianne!” Seemingly in response, the Cotton Candy turned to face Robinson. Noting the exchange, Jeong told Robinson, “Nice. Hurting the game, but nice.”
So, could Cotton Candy actually be Julianne Hough? Here’s what we know.
A Number of Clues Point to Hough as the Celebrity Behind the Mask
Jeong made a great guess when he wondered if Cotton Candy could be Julianne Hough. Not only did Cotton Candy’s first The Masked Dancer performance live up to Hough’s talent, there were a number of clues dropped during the video animated clue package that line up with Hough’s career and background.
As judge Ashley Tisdale pointed out, there was a witch’s hat in the Cotton Candy’s clue package. She noted that Julianne Hough and her brother Derek were extras in the Harry Potter movie series.
Cotton Candy referenced having to move away from home and live with a “new family” in order to “chase her dreams.” As a child, Hough moved from Utah to London in order to train as a dancer.
Furthermore, Good Housekeeping points out that the 3 dumbbell weights featured in the clue package could be a reference to Hough’s 3 Emmy Award nominations; she’s won one Emmy so far in her career.
Fans Guessed Another Contestant Might Be Hough’s Brother Derek
Julianne is not the only Hough who fans have guessed might be a participant in the debut season of The Masked Dancer. After episode 2 of The Masked Dancer, fans on social media wondered if Cotton Candy’s Group B competitor, the Sloth, might be Derek Hough. The guesses are largely motivated by the Sloth’s charismatic on-stage presence and talent as a dancer.
Hough rose to fame as a professional dance partner on Dancing With the Stars, before leaving the show and becoming a judge on World of Dance. Hough returned to DWTS in 2020 as a new judge on the panel, stepping in for Len Goodman.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight about his girlfriend, Hayley Erbert, Hough revealed some recent birthday celebrations. He told Lauren Zima, “I took [Hayley] to a farm for her birthday. We were hanging out with pigs and sloths, it was awesome.” Could his choice to portray the Sloth character be a loving shoutout to his girlfriend, who has calls “the love of [his] life.”
New episodes of The Masked Dancer air on Wednesday nights at 8/7c on FOX.