Carrie Ann Inaba is continuing to speak out amid criticism from Dancing With the Stars viewers over her judging of Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev. Throughout Season 29 of the ABC dancing competition, Inaba has been critical of their routines, oftentimes deducting points, leading some to believe that perhaps she was tougher on Chigvintsev due to their romantic past.
Addressing the rumors in a recent interview with Us Weekly, Inaba said that she has "love" and "respect" for Chigvintsev. The former couple had dated for three years before splitting in 2009, with Chigvintsev going on to welcome a baby with Nikki Bella, his now-fiancée. Inaba, clearing up the rumors, said that she is a "huge fan" of Bella's and that she loves "that they just had their little baby Matteo," adding that she has "nothing but love" for her ex and his family.
Inaba went on to explain that she "totally understood what" fans were doing when the theories of jealousy arose, stating that it's what she loves "about the Bachelor fans and Bachelorette fans. They can create a story around it!" She said, "It's like, there's jealousy there and there's this and that because that's what the Bachelor and Bachelorette is all about, right? It's about creating stories about everybody." She also acknowledged that the theories and the backlash to her scoring stems from the passion fans have for their show and the pairs they are rooting for, though she clarified why her judging may seem a little harsh.
"As a female dancer, I tend to push women a little harder because I understand it from their perspective, so I know exactly what I’m pushing for because I can feel it from them that they're so close to it," she explained. "And I know it was hard and I know that they were frustrated but it happens all the time."
During Monday night's Icons Night, Inaba handed Bristowe and Chigvintsev their first perfect score when she gave them 10 points, bringing their total to 30. The pair's Argentine tango to Britney Spears' "Toxic" was dubbed "incredible" by the judge, who said that she had to give the pair "a standing ovation." The perfect score followed weeks of lower scores and criticism from Inaba, who had deducted a point during Week 8 for what she dubbed a lift rather than a flip, something that drew plenty of backlash, including from Chigvintsev, who admitted that it was beginning to feel "a little personal."
Dancing With the Stars' Semi-Finals kicks off Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Stay tuned to PopCulture.com for the latest updates.