‘Dancing with the Stars’ predictions: Laurie Hernandez will win season 23

Season 23 of “Dancing with the Stars” premieres tonight, September 12, but our predictions contest entrants already have strong opinions about who will win. Gymnast Laurie Hernandez, who won an Olympic gold medal this summer in Rio de Janeiro with the US women’s gymnastics team, leads our Mirror Ball Trophy predictions with 1/2 odds.

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Hernandez excelled on various apparatuses during the Olympics, including the floor exercise, so she has already demonstrated impressive rhythm. She would be the second gymnast to win “Dancing with the Stars,” following Shawn Johnson in season eight, but she’d be the fifth Olympic champion to do so overall. Speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno (season four) and figure skaters Kristi Yamaguchi (season six) and Meryl Davis (season 18) also prevailed.

Ranked second in our “DWTS” predictions is actress Marilu Henner with 16/1 odds. At age 64, Henner would be the oldest winner in the show’s history by more than a decade — Donny Osmond was 52 when he won season nine in 2009 — but she may have a secret weapon: pro partner Derek Hough, who has won six Mirror Ball Trophies, more than any other “DWTS” pro.

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Also with 16/1 odds is race car driver James Hinchcliffe. Will he show just as much skill on the dance floor as Helio Castroneves, the auto racer who won season five?

In fourth place with 18/1 odds is Ryan Lochte. Like Hernandez, he’s an Olympic gold medalist, but he’s a swimmer, so it’s harder to tell if he’ll be at home in the ballroom or a fish out of water. It also remains to be seen how he’ll be greeted by the voting public, who may not be inclined to support him after his scandal in Rio: he claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint, but his report was found to be greatly embellished.

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Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choice.

You’ll compete to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate, bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the upcoming season of “DWTS” in Gold Derby’s reality TV forum.

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