She was nervous around him, but he ended up being the big brother she needed at the time

By Tim Nudd
May 15, 2015 12:55 PM
Rick Diamond/Getty

They were one of the most classic pairings ever on Dancing with the Stars, with electric chemistry, rumors of off-screen romance and moves that carried them to a third-place finish.

Now, five years later, Erin Andrews recalls meeting Maksim Chmerkovskiy for the first time – and just being terrified.

“When I first met Maks, I broke out in hives because I was like, ‘Wow, you really are delicious, and I cannot walk in heels,’ ” Andrews said Thursday at “An Evening with Dancing with the Stars” – an event at the Paley Center in Los Angeles featuring a panel discussion about the show.

Much has been made of Andrews and Chmerkovskiy’s chemistry. But actually, Andrews says it was more of a sibling thing – and it helped that she was used to macho guys from her background in sports reporting.

“The reason why Maks and I worked out so well was because I come from a world where all I worked with was men, and pretty much I’m like a guy in a lot of ways,” she said.

Chmerkovskiy’s toughness forced her to toughen up, too, she adds, and he helped her find the confidence she needed to perform – having been shaken up by a frightening stalking incident just months before, in which a man filmed a nude video of her that ended up getting leaked.

“I had been embarrassed nationally for something that I didn’t do,” Andrews said. “And then this show, I had to walk out there in front of how many millions of people and kind of eat it up and do well because my hot Russian partner was going to kill me if I didn’t.

“Poor Maks,” she added. “He had no idea he was getting this chick that not only worked with men for a living but also, you know, was just kind of a mess inside. And that’s another reason why I think it worked with him so well, because he was not only a big brother he was really helping me with my confidence again.”

Andrews, 37, is now, of course, a host of the ABC dancing show, which wraps up its 20th season next week.

Reporting by ABBY STERN

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