Derek Hough Thinks ‘Dark Horse’ Contestant Will Surprise DWTS Viewers

Derek Hough

ABC Derek Hough

Derek Hough has been a judge on “Dancing With the Stars” for two seasons, and he’s won the Mirrorball Trophy six times. He knows a thing or two about which contestants may end up coming out on top.

As part of a partnership with Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase and their new Teach the Love program, the professional dancer sat down with Heavy to talk about the program and “Dancing With the Stars.”


Hough Thinks Many Contestants Could Surprise Viewers

While there are certainly front-runners in the competition when it comes to dance experience and judge’s scores, Hough shared that he believes many contestants who aren’t necessarily on the top of the leaderboard will surprise fans.

“I think Jordin Sparks is magnetic, I think she just has this amazing charisma and glow about her when she dances,” he said. “I think Daniel [Durant] is extraordinary, I’m just in awe. Last week, his musicality is incredible, and he’s deaf, and it’s mind-blowing.”

He added, “Selma Blair is doing mind-blowing things that are defying all the odds, but Gabby [Windey] is fantastic. She’s a really strong dancer.”

Hough thinks many different contestants could emerge and come out on top later on in the competition.

“Trevor Donovan, he really surprised me,” he said. “Because, especially in that first package the first week, he was like, I have a phobia of dance, and I’m like, ‘Okay, you can put that to bed, bro. You love dance. You’ve gone from one extreme to another. Now you’re going to be obsessed with dance.”

He added, “Even Vinny [Guadagnino], he’s so fun to watch. The first week he was like, eh, but then the next week he came back and was fantastic. He just gives it his all and he’s fun to watch, so we’ll see what happens.”


Hough Is Helping Send Teachers on Vacations

Hough has partnered with Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase to launch the Teach the Love program.

I love educators, I love teachers,” Hough said. “Because for me, I’m a forever student and I’m thankful for all the teachers that have impacted my life. And I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for all the teachers in my life, but also I love traveling. I love adventure. But also, for me, that’s where I get inspiration, you know? That’s where I get inspired for creative ideas.”

He added, “So, especially during this time when teachers have been the absolute superheroes of the past few years especially. This is a good opportunity to give back to them, to see them and appreciate them. It’s kind of cool, we’re calling it an edu-vacation.”

Nominations are being accepted from October 5, which is World Teacher Day, through November 9 at the website here. Students can nominate their favorite teacher, Hough shared, adding that if they’re under 18, parents can nominate their childrens’ teachers.

Three grand prize winners will receive a vacation selected from five education-packed destinations. The prize includes “hotels, flights, and excursions” being fully covered.

Here are the locations, per the press release:

    • Maui, Hawaii for marine biology fans
    • Chicago, Illinois for fine arts and architecture lovers
    • Washington, D.C., for American History buffs
    • Palm Springs, California for geology fanatics
    • Nashville, Tennessee for music connoisseurs

There will also be seven runners-up that receive 30,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points to use toward their own “Edu-vacation.”

Hough urged his fans to “think about the teachers that have impacted them or have impacted their kids.”

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