For over a decade, Dancing with the Stars has been entertaining audiences and giving celebrities a chance to shine. The ballroom has featured a wide variety of talents, from the stars of the past to up-and-comers.
For the stars who have claimed victory, winning the Mirror Ball typically mean one of two things. Either it’s a nice prize in the middle of a long and successful career, or it’s the start of a new chapter, a transition point that helps give them a boost to a new phase in their lives.
Here’s a look at the first 20 winners of Dancing with the Stars to see where they are now and what winning the Mirror Ball did for them. If this is any indication, recent winners like Bindi Irwin, Nyle DiMarco and Laurie Hernandez can have a lot to look forward to in the next few years.
Season 1: Kelly Monaco
Winning the first Mirror Ball hasn’t changed Kelly. In fact, she’s still doing what she did before, playing Sam on General Hospital, a role she’s been portraying for more than 13 years.
Season 2: Drew Lachey
Like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, Drew and the other members of 98 Degrees hopped on the boy band nostalgia bandwagon, headlining the My2K Tour over the summer of 2016.
Season 3: Emmitt Smith
After winning the Mirror Ball in 2006, Smith tried his hand at being a commentator for the NFL, but it didn’t work out. Since then he’s been focused primarily on business, particularly in real estate. Who knows, maybe he’ll translate that to hosting a reality TV show and then, in 20 years, he’ll be President.
Season 4: Apolo Anton Ohno
Since winning season 4 and competing on the All-Stars season, Ohno has been steadily working in entertainment. He hosted the GSN version of the game show Minute to Win It and has had several acting jobs, notably in the Syfy original movie Tasmanian Devils (alongside another DWTS alum, Danica McKellar) and as himself in a recent episode of NBC’s Superstore.
Season 5: Helio Castroneves
Helio’s life has remained largely the same after winning DWTS as he’s still on the IndyCar circuit, but the Mirror Ball did bring him a bit of good luck as, within two years of winning the show with Julianne Hough, he won his third Indianapolis 500 and had his first child.
Season 6: Kristi Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi is a staunch advocate for children’s literacy and, since clinching the Mirror Ball, she has become a best-selling children’s book author, with her third book, Cara’s Kindness, being released in 2016.
Season 7: Brooke Burke
Obviously we all know that after winning DWTS, Brooke Burke married David Charvet and served as the show’s co-host. But now she’s off to tackle a new reality adventure as one of the contestants on The New Celebrity Apprentice hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, premiering Monday, January 2 at 8/7c on NBC.
Season 8: Shawn Johnson
Like Kristi, Shawn as ventured into fiction writing with the 2016 release of her young adult noivel The Flip Side. And like Brooke, Shawn also went from the ballroom to the boardroom as a contestant on Donald Trump’s final season of The Celebrity Apprentice in 2015. And yes, she got fired by the man who would become the 45th President of the United States of America.
Season 9: Donny Osmond
Donny is still a hard-working performer, taking the stage in Vegas with his sister and fellow DWTS alum Marie for their regular show while also going on the road during the holiday seasons to perform a special holiday show.
Season 10: Nicole Scherzinger
The one-time Pussycat Doll is even busier now than she was when she won. In the last two years alone she’s earned an award nomination for her role in Cats in the West End, co-hosted Neil Patrick Harris’ short-lived NBC variety show, returned to The X Factor in the U.K. as a judge who mentored the 2016 winner and she’s the voice of Moana’s mother in the hit Disney animated film. And it doesn’t stop there as she’ll be appearing in ABC’s TV movie remake of Dirty Dancing in 2017.
Season 11: Jennifer Grey
Speaking of Dirty Dancing, Grey won in 2010 and has gone on to a starring role in the Amazon TV series Red Oaks, which recently debuted its second season.
Season 12: Hines Ward
Hines went straight from football to the ballroom to being a commentator for football, though perhaps his most interesting jobs post- DWTS have been uncredited cameos in two huge franchises: as a football player in The Dark Knight Rises and as a Walker on season 3 of The Walking Dead. Getting to be turned into a zombie is definitely a good reason to win the Mirror Ball.
Season 13: J.R. Martinez
J.R. continues to use his celebrity for good as an advocate for military charities and causes. In the aftermath of DWTS, he was certainly able to capitalize on the fame, landing a radio hosting job and the lead role on his own syndicated action series SAF3, about the sea, air and fire department of Malibu.
Season 14: Donald Driver
Since retiring from football and winning DWTS, Driver has focused almost entirely on his charity work, using his Wisconsin-based foundation to help give back to the community that supported him as a player.
Season 15: Melissa Rycroft
The former Bachelor contestant won the All-Stars season and since then she has added to her personal and professional life. In 2016 she gave birth to her third child and became the new co-host of Redneck Island on CMT alongside Steve Austin.
Season 16: Kellie Pickler
Winning DWTS seemed to mark a big transition for the American Idol contestant as she’s seemingly gone from country singer to reality TV personality. While she hasn’t released new music since competing in 2013, she did get her own CMT reality show, I Love Kellie Pickler and she’s working on developing a talk show.
Season 17: Amber Riley
Amber won DWTS as Glee was ending, marking the start of her new career, primarily as a singer and stage actress. Like her partner Derek, she starred in one of NBC’s live musicals ( The Wiz) and is now appearing in London’s West End as Effie White in Dreamgirls.
Season 18: Meryl Davis
The Olympic ice dancer has spent her time continuing to perform alongside partner Charlie White in Stars on Ice. However, the two are not competing in the current ice dancing season and have yet to make any official announcements on whether they will make a run at the 2018 Olympics.
Season 19: Alfonso Ribeiro
No DWTS winner has a more clear or direct career bump than Alfonso. While the former Fresh Prince star was steadily working as a host of GSN game shows, DWTS relaunched his career. His natural charisma got a primetime spotlight and, as a result, he replaced Tom Bergeron as the new host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Would he have landed that gig without being on DWTS and winning the Mirror Ball?
Season 20: Rumer Willis
DWTS definitely helped Rumer take on bigger roles in music and acting. Shortly after winning DWTS she made her Broadway debut in Chicago, she recently ended her singing tour and next on the horizon is a recurring role in the second half of Empire’s third season as a singer/songwriter who helps Jamal.
Dancing with the Stars will return to ABC for season 24 Mondays in March 2017.