Derek Hough is ‘really rooting’ for Tonya Harding on ‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes’

Derek Hough already has a favorite on “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.” The six-time champ is still following the show and is pulling for Tonya Harding.

“The one that got me a lot was obviously Tonya Harding,” the former pro tells “Entertainment Tonight” of Harding and Sasha Farber’s elegant foxtrot that earned a score of 23.

But more so than her dancing, Hough, who’s now judging “World of Dance,” was most touched by the disgraced figure skater trying to make the most of her second chance. Harding was banned from figure skating after pleading guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution in the assault on Nancy Kerrigan in 1994.

SEE ‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes’ rankings: Who REALLY gave the best performances in the season premiere?

“It’s so interesting hearing people when they just attack people, but I don’t know, I’m always on the defense for people who have done something wrong and who are looking for redemption,” Hough says, invoking renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” myth. “Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey is, like, redemption is such an important part. I believe we all deserve redemption, and I love that ‘Dancing with the Stars’ offers that in some way. So I’m really rooting for her.”

Hough seemingly isn’t the only one rooting for her. Harding received a standing ovation after her dance, which definitely was not a guarantee coming into the show. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” Harding told Tom Bergeron of the reception.

“Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.

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