‘Dancing with the Stars’: Jordin Sparks and Wayne Brady are early front-runners for Mirror Ball Trophy

Dancing with the Stars” season 31 premieres on Monday night, September 19, on its new home, Disney+, but which of the 16 celebrities will win the Mirror Ball Trophy? The celebs haven’t stepped foot in the ballroom yet, but fans have been making their predictions here in our predictions center since the cast was officially announced. So who are they betting on?

Right now it looks like a two-horse race. Jordin Sparks leads our predictions with 4/1 odds based on fans’ combined predictions. So what makes her such a strong early contender to win? Well, she’s an “American Idol” alum, just like season 16 winner Kellie Pickler. And beyond that, singers and recording artists in general have had a strong track record on “DWTS.” Consider other winners like Drew Lachey (season two), Nicole Scherzinger (season 10), and Amber Riley (season 17), and finalists like Nick Carter (season 21), Normani (season 24), Lindsey Stirling (season 25), and Ally Brooke (season 28). Musicians aren’t always proven dancers, but their experience interpreting music gives them an edge on the dance floor, provided their feet can keep up.

Ranked second with 9/2 odds is Wayne Brady, who also has proven musical chops. He’s a five-time Emmy winner for his wide range of improvisational performances on “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” his short-lived self-titled daytime talk show, and his long-running game show “Let’s Make a Deal.” He has also appeared on Broadway in “Chicago” and “Kinky Boots,” so his career experience on stage and screen is reminiscent of other Mirror Ball-winning theater vets Alfonso Ribeiro (season 19) and Jordan Fisher (season 25).

But just how reliable are our odds when we haven’t seen anyone dance yet? Well, sometimes better than others. Last year literally no one was predicting NBA star Iman Shumpert to win the Mirror Ball Trophy, because at that point no basketball player ever had. The year before that we had ultimate winner Kaitlyn Bristowe ranked sixth in week one. And the year before that we ranked eventual winner Hannah Brown fourth sight unseen. The last time we correctly predicted the Mirror Ball champ in week one was Adam Rippon in season 26, the shortened all-athletes edition of the show. So sometimes our forecasts are spot-on, and other times we’re taken by surprise. And really it’s the surprises that make “DWTS” so fun to watch.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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