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Calling all Dancing with the Stars fans: The new season premieres on September 12. (Wahoo!) Sure, you know the celebrity lineup (everyone from Maureen McCormick—aka Marcia Brady—to Ryan Lochte), but you probably don’t know what goes down behind the scenes. Here, seven secrets that’ll blow your mind.

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The Costumes Aren’t Finished Until an Hour Before the Show

Yep, contestants—even the most finicky ones—don’t actually get to test-drive their costumes until dress rehearsal. Then it’s a mad dash for the show’s seamstresses to make sure everything fits just right (read: there aren’t any wardrobe malfunctions) in time for the live show.


Contestants Are Chosen Based on Current Events, Not Popular Opinion

It’s the difference between Jennifer Aniston (someone fans would love to see compete, apparently)…and Ryan Lochte. (Timely intrigue + scandal = high ratings.)

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Backup Celebs Are On Standby Just In Case Anyone Bails

Should [insert controversial or injured contestant name here] back out or decide they’re unable to compete mere days before a season kicks off, producers are always sure to have an alternate waiting—and rehearsing—in the wings. (How else do you think they snagged Holly Madison when Jewel fractured her tibia right before participating in season eight?)


Contestants Rehearse About 35 to 50 Hours a Week on Average

That’s roughly five to seven hours a day, seven days a week. (But a lot of contestants have said they practiced even more.)


And They Go Through Five Gallons of Spray Tanner a Season

Whoa, that’s a lot of orange.

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Contestants Typically Get Paid at Least $125K Just to Compete

Yep, all they have to do is show up for the first day of rehearsal. But they make an extra $10K to $50K for every episode they remain on the show, according to reports. And since a season usually lasts for ten performance weeks, that adds up to a cool $225,000 to $625,000 if they make it all the way through.


But if They Win It All, The Grand Prize Is the Mirror Ball Trophy

OK, and maybe a hug from host Tom Bergeron. But extra cash for winning? Nope, contestants get zilch. 

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