Photo: Dacing With the Stars/Youtube
Dancing With the Stars is a show celebrities continue to do even after disgraced former White House press secretary Sean Spicer performed a salsa number on its stage in a ruffled neon blouse, and that’s their right. On Monday night, the show’s 29th season premiered with a new host (Tyra Banks) and a new set of contestants that includes former Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, Coach Monica from Cheer, and, as you may have heard, Carole Baskin.
Baskin is the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, a big-cat sanctuary in Florida. She’s also one of the subjects of Tiger King, the 2020 Netflix docuseries that chronicled the life and feuds of Joe Exotic, a former private-zoo owner who is currently in federal prison for, among other things, hiring a hit man to kill Baskin. In the series, Exotic repeatedly suggested that Baskin was responsible for the 1997 disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis, and that she fed him to the lions and tigers in her sanctuary. Baskin has vehemently denied any involvement in Lewis’s disappearance.
The popularity of Tiger King prompted a renewed interest in Lewis’ disappearance, and even inspired a Florida sheriff to ask for tips regarding the cold case.
This is a lot of background for a post about how Baskin did in a dancing competition, I know. But I remind you of these details because after Baskin’s performance — a tiger-themed paso doble with pro dancer Pasha Pashkov set to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” a performance for which she earned a score of 11/30, the lowest marks of the night — ABC in Tampa aired a commercial from Lewis’s family, in which they demand answers about their missing loved one.
The 35-second ad features Lewis’s three daughters, Gale, Lynda and Donna; his former assistant, Anne McQueen; and the family’s lawyer, John M. Phillips.
“We need to know what happened to our father,” says Donna.
“Don Lewis mysteriously disappeared in 1997, his family deserves answers, they deserve justice. Do you know who did this or if Carole Baskin was involved?” asks Phillips.
The family then offers a $100,000 reward for anyone who has any information regarding Lewis’s disappearance, and provides the number for a tip line.
Lewis and Baskin married in 1991, and together they started the animal sanctuary that would become Big Cat Rescue. The two were still married when Lewis disappeared in August 1997, but he had filed a restraining order against her two months before.
If you have any information, the number for tips is 646-450-6530. And congratulations to Dancing With the Stars’ high scorers on night one: Justina Machado and Skai Jackson, who each scored 21/30 for, respectively, a cha-cha and a tango performance.
Here’s How Carole Baskin’s Dancing With the Stars Debut Went