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Saturday, April 20, 2024

The sixteenth season cast of “Dancing with the Stars” was announced last week, and middle-aged women everywhere picked their early favorites.

To help place bets, we analyzed the contestants and found the best first-round picks.

Four of the twelve contestants are athletes, so it’s safe to assume this year’s victor will (like seven seasons past) be an athlete.

It’s no secret that athletes have — in my not-so-humble opinion — completely unfair advantages over other celebrities, including but not limited to physical prowess, previous training and an innate competitive instinct.

Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones and Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill all have a fair shot. But gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman will dance with two-time winner Mark Ballas — and I think the competition is theirs to lose this year.

Comedians Andy Dick and D.L. Hughley have an obviously small amount of athletic ability and no real shot at the title.

Sean Lowe, the most recent leading man of “The Bachelor,” was added to the cast Tuesday. Let’s hope his time in the competition outlasts his television engagement.

Lisa Vanderpump may score a few votes from the fans of her Bravo shows, “Vanderpump Rules” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” but my guess is they’re all too busy catching up with “Shahs of Sunset” to tune in.

Zendaya is my pick for the contestant to keep an eye on, considering her previous dance experience. Though she is arguably the least recognizable star on the list, she could surprise us like fellow Disney Channel star Chelsea Kane did in season 12, placing third.

“General Hospital” star Ingo Rademacher is a safe bet, considering the show’s massive fan base, which voted co-star Kelly Monaco to the top during the first season. Not to mention his partner, Kym Johnson, has won twice in the past.

Five-time Grammy winner Wynonna Judd is pitted against fellow country singer Kellie Pickler. Judd would be the obvious choice if it were based solely on star power, but Pickler is paired with three-time winner Derek Hough — a feat that cannot be ignored if you’re betting on this year’s turnout.

The new season premieres at 8 p.m. Monday on ABC. In six weeks, the show will air a 300th episode special, which is expected to include the return of numerous stars and dance partners from past seasons.

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A few weeks after that, the winner will be announced, so place your bets now to cash in later. Cha-ching!

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