Olympic gold medalist gymnast Gabby Douglas is the first-ever winner of “The Masked Dancer,” having scored the show’s diamond mask trophy after being revealed as Cotton Candy.
Douglas was victorious despite facing off with two trained dancers in the finale. Runner-up Sloth turned out to be “Dancing with the Stars’” Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And in third place was Tulip, who was revealed to be Mackenzie Ziegler (“Dance Moms”).
Douglas was unmasked after dancing to “This Is Me,” by Kesha. The panelists were torn between whether the Cotton Candy was a gymnast or an ice skater. Paula Abdul figured out it was Gabby Douglas, while Ashley Tisdale named her teammate Simone Biles. Brian Austin Green thought it was Tara Lapinski, Ken Jeong named Michelle Kwan.
Among Douglas’ notable moments on the show came before her first dance, when (dressed as Cotton Candy) she was suspended high in an acrobatic ring but then fell down to the ground. “The Masked Dancer” got a lot of mileage playing that clip and noting how Cotton Candy quickly rebounded and performed.
Now, Douglas can reveal that — ironically — that although it wasn’t easy to dance in disguise, it was perhaps that elaborate, padded costume that protected her.
“The ring was spinning very fast, which I had done so many takes before that, but I just really wanted to make everything just very light and airy,” she told Variety. “I kind of wasn’t paying attention, and part of my left shoulder got outside of the ring, and then gravity literally just took me down. But I was so fortunate for Cotton Candy’s costume because it padded the fall, and I had a big ol’ skirt on, had her [large] head. So I walked away with only a bruised chin and a bruised knee, but I was fine. I just got right back up and was like, ‘All right, guys, let’s do it again.”
Douglas may be an athletic superstar, but she admitted that her dancing skills were only “at 5%. Because I’m so used to doing kind of static poses and not really being in character, moving, doing different genres, or style of dancing. So, it was very, very different.”
The panelists eventually figured out that Cotton Candy was either a gymnast or an ice skater, which made Douglas more eager to cover her tracks. “I didn’t want to make it very gymnast-y at all so I was practicing with choreographers saying like, ‘OK, how do I be a ballerina or how do I be a hip hop dancer, to throw the judges off.’”
She was amused by some of the early off-kilter guesses, especially by Jeong: “I thought Ken was super hilarious some of his guesses are very wild. Kylie Jenner, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez which was wow, is he just doing this to be funny or is he actually serious?”
Douglas gives high marks to her experience. “If I could rewind and do it all over again I would,” she said. “It is definitely inspired my passion to dance more.”
Second place Sloth was correctly guessed by Abdul and Green, who chose Chmerkovskiy. Jeong named Channing Tatum, while Tisdale thought it was Hugh Jackman.
For third place Tulip, Tisdale figured out it was Ziegler. Abdul went with Liza Koshy, Jeong chose Lucy Hale, Green named Sabrina Carpenter.
“I think one of the hardest things for me was obviously having the head on,” Ziegler said. “Because it was definitely way bigger than my actual head, and it was hard because I was doing tricks, my partner was lifting me up and it was hard on rehearsals, trying to navigate around the head because it was just so big.”
Ziegler said many of her fans figured out early on it was her: “I’m just so excited for everyone to see me because a lot of my supporters have been guessing me already. And all of my comments are, ‘are you the Tulip?’ So I’m excited to see how everyone reacts when they get me right.”
Abdul and Green came into the finale with two correct guesses, while Jeong and Tisdale had one. By the end of the night, Abdul won the season with four correct guesses, while Green wound up with three, Tisdale with two and Jeong with his one.
“The Masked Dancer” includes the feature “Word Up,” in which each contestant says a one-word clue to their identity. Douglas’ first “Word Up” was “Primetime,” second “Word Up” was “Team Player,” third was “Prayer” and fourth was “Cover Girl.” On Wednesday, her final “Word Up” was “Foundation.”
This season’s costumes include Zebra, Tulip, Sloth, Exotic Bird, Cotton Candy, Cricket, Disco Ball, Moth, Ice Cube and Hammerhead. Previously unmasked were Oscar de la Hoya as the Zebra, Jordin Sparks as the Exotic Bird, Vinny Guadagnino as the Hammerhead, Brian McKnight as the Cricket, Elizabeth Smart as the Moth, Bill Nye the Science Guy as the Ice Cube, and Ice-T as the Disco Ball.
The show touts a cast of 10 celebrities that have “amassed more than 38 million albums sold worldwide, 20 Emmy Award wins, 20 Grammy Award nominations, 10 World Dancing titles, five New York Times Best-Selling Author titles, four Olympic gold medals and three Broadway show appearances.”
“The Masked Singer” opened with finalists Cotton Candy, Tulip and Sloth dancing to “I’ve Had The Time of My Life,” with host Craig Robinson singing the male part.
Here were final three contestants and their performances on episode eight, “Road to the Finals — Final Clues to the Mask!/The Finale — One Last Mask!”:
Dance: “This Is Me,” by Kesha
Word Up: “Foundation”
Panel guesses: Michelle Kwan, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles
Previous dances: “Glitter in the Air,” by Pink; “Sour Candy,” by Lady Gaga feat. Blackpink; “Great Balls of Fire,” by Jerry Lee Lewis; “Swan Lake Opus 20, Act 1 Finale,” by Tchaikovsky; “Get Ready (2013 Version),” by 2 Unlimited and “Hey Mickey,” by Mickey Mix DH
Previous Word Ups: “Primetime”; “Team Player”; “Prayer”; “Cover Girl”
Previous panel guesses: Jenna Dewan, Pink, Julianne Hough, Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Gabby Butler, Simone Biles, Hayden Panettiere, Gabby Douglas
Dance: “Ballroom Blitz,” by the Struts
Word Up: “Magical”
Panel guesses: Hugh Jackman, Channing Tatum
Previous dances: “What I Like About You,” by the Romantics; “Up Where We Belong,” by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes; “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” by Dean Martin; “Twist Remix,” by Neeraj Shridhar; “Dancing with a Stranger,” by Sam Smith feat. Normani
Previous Word Ups: “Broadway”; “Leading man”; “Rose”; “App”
Previous panel guesses: Matthew Morrison, Kevin Federline, Jason Derulo, Jonathan Groff, Keegan-Michael Key, Will Ferrell, Bradley Cooper, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Harry Shum Jr., Hugh Jackman, Jack Black, Patrick Dempsey, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Dance: “Kings & Queens,” by Ava Max
Word Up: “Followers”
Panel guesses: Lucy Hale, Mackenzie Ziegler
Previous dances: “Fergalicious,” by Fergie; “Fields of Gold,” by Eva Cassidy; “Thank U, Next,” by Ariana Grande; “My Boyfriend’s Back,” by The Chiffons; Polka medley
Previous Word Ups: “Triple”; “Princess”; “Lifetime Achievements”; “Butterflies”
Previous panel guesses: Charli D’Amelio, Ariana Grande, Heather Morris, Sarah Hyland, Hayden Panettiere, Kristen Bell, Charli D’Amelio, Simone Biles, Julianne Hough, Liza Koshy, Haylie Duff, Jamie Lyn Spears, Maddie Ziegler, Mackenzie Ziegler, Noah Cyrus, Dove Cameron
Next up, Season 5 of “The Masked Singer: premieres Wednesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox, paired at 9 p.m. with the debut of “Game of Talent,” hosted by “Singer” Season 2 winner Wayne Brady. As Variety reported, Season 5 of “Singer” will kick off with guest host Niecy Nash, who is filling in for Nick Cannon as he recovers from COVID-19.