‘Dancing with the Stars’: Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy Says the Elimination Process Is ‘Super Confusing’ but ‘Fair’ [Exclusive]

Dancing with the Stars changed the way it handles eliminations in season 29. The same elimination style is being used in season 30, which has confused some viewers. Speaking with Dancing with the Stars pro Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy, Showbiz Cheat Sheet learned she feels the same way about eliminations, calling them “confusing” but “fair.”

JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy stand with Olivia Jade and Val Chmerkovskiy during a 'Dancing with the Stars' elimination in season 30
JoJo Siwa, Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy, Olivia Jade, & Val Chmerkovskiy | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

‘Dancing with the Stars’ eliminations confuse fans in season 30 

In previous seasons of Dancing with the Stars, the judges’ scores were tabulated with fan votes. That’s still the case in season 30, but this time, the judges have the opportunity to save a celebrity from the bottom two. 

Once the judges provide their scores and fans call in, text, or vote online, the bottom two are revealed. Then, Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough, and Bruno Tonioli vote on who they’d like to save. 

On Monday, Oct. 11, The Bachelor star Matt James and Real Housewife Kenya Moore were in the bottom two. Many fans were shocked when the judges’ votes were divided for the first time this season. 

“Confused about the judges save,” a fan tweeted. “If Matt got two votes and Kenya got one, how did Len’s one vote save Kenya?? (Not that I think Matt deserved to stay over her, just very confused).” 

Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy says Len Goodman’s decision ‘trumps all’ in ‘DWTS’ eliminations

Showbiz Cheat Sheet spoke with Johnson Chmerkovskiy over the phone just before the season 30 semifinals. We asked the pro about the elimination process during our conversation — a point of contention for some fans this season. 

“I feel like the show wants to do the fairest way possible when it has to come to elimination,” Johnson Chmerkovskiy says. In the past, the show has handled eliminations and the bottom two in many different ways. 

“I think it is super confusing having three judges split or agree,” Johnson Chmerkovskiy adds. “Basically, Len’s decision kind of trumps all. But from the beginning, they’ve told us that he is the head judge, and so his word stands.”

Johnson Chmerkovskiy says the judges have agreed on who to save and who to eliminate in season 30 for the most part. “Except one … with Matt James and Kenya Moore.” Fans were sincerely confused after Tonioli and Inaba voted for James to stay, while Hough voted for Moore during Disney Villains Night.

“Kenya, you’re staying on the show,” Goodman revealed, tying the votes — two for James and two for Moore. But as Johnson Chmerkovskiy said, Goodman’s “word stands.” 

“I think they’re trying to find a system that makes it fair and even and end up with what the results should be,” the DWTS pro concluded. 

Britt Stewart explains Len Goodman’s weighted vote in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ eliminations 

In October 2021, Showbiz spoke with Dancing with the Stars pro Britt Stewart over the phone. She explained why Goodman’s vote is the one that decides when Inaba, Hough, and Tonioli are split. 

“The only time Len would not choose a couple to save is if Bruno, Carrie-Ann, and Derek all three agree on the same person leaving,” Stewart says. “So [when James got eliminated], the reason why Len made the final decision is because the three judges had different opinions on who they thought should go home.” 

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Goodman is the head judge on Dancing with the Stars, so his vote is worth more than the others. “When they [calculated the votes] mathematically, it ended up being very close to a tie,” Stewart said of James’ elimination. “[For example], Kenya’s [score was] 2.5 because Len has a weighted vote, and Matt only had two votes, so it was very close.”

The Dancing with the Stars Season 30 finale is Monday, Nov. 22. Tune in to see if Johnson Chmerkovskiy and JoJo Siwa take home the Mirrorball Trophy.