The 2018 season of “Dancing with the Stars” is over, which means it’s time for the annual post-season media circus to begin. We’re already well into the 2019 season, which is a testament to how much fun “Dancing with the Stars” actually is. Now that the dust has settled, we have a better understanding of who won and who lost, and which celebrity danced, we can take a closer look at the betting trends and see how they match up with the final scorers. Let’s dive in.
The season started with the likes of Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman setting the odds on the first few episodes, but as the competition heated up, sportsbooks adjusted their lines and opened up more wagers on the evening’s top celebrities. This was most evident toward the end when Hollywood stars were getting killed in the ratings, and the lines started to resemble a fight – which was totally accurate. Before the season even began, bettors got it in their heads that Meryl Streep would be the favorite, given that she’s been in so many iconic films. But after the trailers for “Gone with the Wind” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice” came out, those odds completely changed, and she became a significant underdog.
This was also the case with John Travolta, whose boxing film “Fighter” was one of the most anticipated films of 2018. He was considered one of the favorites to win, but given the competition, it was not a difficult feat to outwit. John Travolta’s odds went from +600 to -1200 after the “Fighter” trailer came out. But even after his first dance with Karina Gould proved to be a perfect fit, viewers could not get enough of the actor’s energetic dancing and quickly shifted their allegiances.
As we’ve established, when it comes to “Dancing with the Stars,” Meryl Streep is the clear favorite, having won the title seven times. But even though she has won so much, she’s actually one of the least favored celebs to win this season. The odds for her to take home the trophy once again are 14.2 to 1, compared to the 7.7 to 1 odds for her nemesis, Karina Gould. But, as we’ve seen, appearances can be deceiving, and Meryl Streep was actually one of the biggest winners of the season, proving that not everything that glitters is gold. The fact that she’s been in so many iconic films has also caused her to become a bit of a lock, especially since she’s made such a successful return from retirement. Even the trailers for “Gone with the Wind” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice” focused on her character, making the actress an obvious choice for bookies. But, in reality, Meryl Streep’s odds might not be as good as they seem. While she has had some incredible performances on “Dancing with the Stars,” she also took a few missteps that caused her to lose a few points in the eyes of the voters. For example, she wore a revealing dress on the premiere of “The Dinner,” and her dance with Derek Hough was criticized for being too rehearsed. We’ll get to that in a bit.
While Meryl Streep was never actually a part of the “Dancing with the Stars” team, she was certainly its most recognizable face. This was especially true in the early going when she was considered the favorite to win. But then, something changed. The season started with odds of 7.7 to 1 for Meryl Streep to win “Dancing with the Stars,” followed by Denzel Washington at 12.0 to 1 and then Morgan Freeman at 12.0 to 1. Given the iconic nature of their respective movies, it was not hard for bettors to see how these celebrities would be performing on the show. But then, the lines started changing. The odds on the top three before the season began were as follows: Meryl Streep -7.7 to 1, Denzel Washington 12.0 to 1, and Morgan Freeman 12.0 to 1. But then, shortly before the start of the season, the lines moved to Meryl Streep -14.2 to 1, Denzel Washington 25.0 to 1, and Morgan Freeman 25.0 to 1. This shows how much sportsbooks changed their minds about who they thought would win this season. What makes this interesting is that Meryl Streep was never actually a part of the “Dancing with the Stars” team, and she did not work out with them at all. This is significant because it means that we’re not really seeing a reflection of what would happen on the show. Instead, it’s a better portrayal of what the betting markets thought would happen, despite the fact that Meryl Streep was not even a contestant.
Another interesting aspect of the betting trends on “Dancing with the Stars” this season is the fact that there was a massive skew in favor of women. While men were favored to win the competition, it was clear that the favorite would be a blonde woman. This became especially evident toward the end when the odds on the top three contestants shifted heavily to the right. Before the season began, the top three male contestants had -600 odds, while the top three female contestants had 11/4 odds. But then, as the season progressed, the favorites started rapidly declining in the eyes of the public, and the line started skewing more and more toward the right. As the odds shifted to the right, so did public opinion, ultimately causing some of the early favorites to be eliminated. Some of these female favorites were even “BFFs” (Best Friends Forever), and it was heartbreaking to see them go. But, as in real life, friendships sometimes end in tears, and it seems that “Dancing with the Stars” is a perfect expression of that sentiment.
One of the most popular contestants this season was undoubtedly Dustin Hoffman. The odds after the premiere were 8.0 to 1 for the veteran actor, followed by 7.0 to 1 for Jack Black. Their participation was such a breath of fresh air in a season plagued by political correctness. Most notably, they made several jokes about President Donald Trump and his administration. While Black was especially outspoken in his criticism of the president (“I’d like to see him in jail”), Hoffman did not mince words, either, criticizing Trump as being “a crazy guy” and “a loony toon” who “[has] never been responsible for anything in his life.” Given their hatred of Trump, it was only a matter of time until “The Battle of the Sexes” was declared. On the premiere of the “Mad Men” spin-off series, “Cutthroat,” Black and Hoffman engaged in what we’re calling, in the words of one expert, “a dance-off of the century.” But it was not just their political commentary that won them fans. They also put on an incredible dance, and their charisma as performers was apparent as they wowed the audience. It was the perfect way to end the premiere and leave the audience craving more. The fact that this was the most-watched episode of the entire season means that Black and Hoffman’s dancing will not soon be forgotten.