Ready to pounce? Season 29 of the Dancing With the Stars started off memorably, thanks in part to Carole Baskin’s missing husband Don Lewis’ family and their heartfelt commercial that aired during the show.
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The ad featured Lewis’ daughters, Gale, Lynda and Donna, his attorney John Phillips, and his former assistant, Anne McQueen, asking for any leads in finding the missing millionaire, who disappeared in 1997.
“We need to know what happened to our father,” his eldest daughter, Donna, said in the clip. “Do you know if Carole Baskin was involved?” the lawyer asked as he said the family is offering a $100,000 reward for information.
The Tiger King star’s first husband, Lewis, was legally declared dead in 2002. During Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness docuseries, the owner of Big Cat Rescue Corporation, 59, was accused by the series’ star, Joe Exotic, of murdering her first husband.
Baskin denied claims that she had anything to with Lewis’ disappearance, which was a major theme explored within the show.
In June, two years after the show was filmed, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister alleged that Lewis’ will was forged, following claims from Lewis’ friend and former lawyer Joseph Fritz saying the signature appeared to be a fake.
Two different handwriting experts concluded that the signature on the will was copied from Lewis’ 1991 marriage license. Although officials didn’t name Baskin as a suspect in the forgery at the time, Fritz told Fox Nation in May that he hoped they “can finally solve this case.”
The will left Baskin with Lewis’ estate, which was worth up to $10 million. The forgery news came one day after the Texas native won control of her rival Exotic’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.
After gaining success for her part on Tiger King in early 2020, Baskin was named as one of the competitors on the new season of DWTS.
Ahead of her first dance, Baskin revealed that she would be performing a pasodoble to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. “For costumes, I gave instructions for no fur, no feathers — but just have a blast,” she told Us Weekly and other reporters on Wednesday, September 9.
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The big-cat rights activist revealed that she has “absolutely no dance background” but was ready to take on the competition amid a personal wellness journey — which resulted in a major slim down ahead of the show’s start.
“This has been a two-year process, it wasn’t just from this,” Baskin said of her weight loss, noting that rehearsals have done a number on muscles she didn’t know she had.
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Baskin added: “I’ve always been really determined and extremely competitive within myself. I want to rehearse all day, every day until I get it right.”
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.
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