Kirstie Alley, Helio Castroneves, Gilles Marini, Kelly Monaco, Drew Lachey, Melissa Rycroft, and Emmit Smith round out the cast. Viewers will be able to vote on which of three past contestants will be the thirteenth and final competitor this year: Sabrina Bryan, Carson Kressley, or Kyle Massey.
ABC announced the competitors at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Friday. "Dancing" producer Conrad Green compared his new cast to "The Avengers" — a group of superheroes banding together.
The show's first all-star season is an attempt to reignite a show that has lost heat and ratings in recent seasons. Palin's inclusion, at least, is likely to get people talking. The daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made it to the final three on the show in her previous appearance, when critics said she would never have gotten so far if not for a concentrated campaign by fans of her mother.
Also read: Sarah Palin Talks Guns and Colorado
She was asked during a TCA panel why she would subject herself to criticism from the public and press again.
"I just think that God provides opportunties like this," she said. "The press is going to talk about me no matter what, so I might as well be having fun."
She was also asked if she would be okay with being partnered with a gay dancer.
"I like gays," she said. "I'm not a homophobic and I'm so sick of people saying that. Just because I'm for traditional marriage doesn't really mean I'm scared or anything of anyone else, and I don't hate anybody. You know, people are going to make up stuff about me no matter what. Whatever. I'm going to go dance and I'm going to have fun. … It's not about politics and it's not about traditional marriage and anything like that. It's just about dancing and it's going to be fun."
Pressed on whether there was anything she liked about the media coverage she receives, she responded: "Do I like to provide for my son? Yes, I do."
Both Palin and Lachey are also connected to an upcoming NBC reality show: Lachey's brother, Nick, will compete on "Stars Earn Stripes" alongside Palin's father, Todd.
Lachey, Monaco, Smith, Ohno, Castroneves, and Johnson are all past winners.