The former press secretary wore a lime green ruffled shirt for his first performance on the ABC show

By Helen Murphy and Christina Dugan
September 17, 2019 11:10 AM
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Sean Spicer has officially made his Dancing with the Stars debut.

The former press secretary to President Donald Trump performed with pro dancer Lindsay Arnold on Monday night’s premiere episode, wearing a lime green ruffled shirt and dancing to a Spice Girls song.

After the show, Spicer told reporters that he had expected backlash for joining DWTS, and hoped that viewers could “put every policy and politics aside” while watching the show.

“I’ve been living this for a while. I expect it,” Spicer, 47, said. “We are where we are as a country, but if people could tune in tonight and say, ‘Look at this diverse cast. They’re rooting for each other, they’re having a blast with each other,’ and we can for two hours put every policy and politics aside and root for different people, have fun and relax, then that’s what we should do more of.”

When asked if he felt extra pressure because of the backlash, Spicer said, “No, I felt extra pressure because I’m wearing a lime green shirt with white pants and playing bongos to the Spice Girls.”

“That’s nothing compared to what happened tonight,” he added. “I can take a couple tweets.”

Lindsay Arnold and Sean Spicer
Sean Spicer and Lindsay Arnold
Eric McCandless/ABC

Spicer said he hoped viewers would learn that he likes to “have fun” and “can play a joke or two.”

“I can’t dance well,” he admitted. “But it’s up to everyone to decide what they see or what they don’t. Everybody’s got different things that they’re interested in.”

The former press secretary also commented on his debut wardrobe: the eye-catching lime green shirt.

“When Lindsay described it, she kind of downplayed it,” he said. “I’ve never had an open chest in my life. Between the song, the bongos, the shirt, this was a combination of things I never thought possible in my world ever. It was a very slow evolution to come to terms.”

Sean Spicer
Dave Kotinsky/Getty

Following the news of Spicer’s casting, former and current DWTS pro dancers and contestants — including Derek Hough, Karamo Brown, Val Chmerkovskiy and even DWTS host Tom Bergeron — shared their thoughts on the decision.

“It stirs the pot,” Hough, 34, told PEOPLE on Sunday. “It draws attention. We’re curious, right? We’re just like, ‘What’s going to happen? How are we going to react? What’s going to happen?’”

Just hours after DWTS unveiled its celebrity competitors for season 28, Bergeron, 64, posted a lengthy message on Twitter. The host explained that he met with the producers ahead of the season to steer the show away from politics, but Spicer’s casting ultimately went against Bergeron’s wishes.

“It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long-term interests of the franchise. We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call,” he wrote.

This season, Spicer joins fellow dance competitors including The Supremes’ Mary Wilson, Queer Eye‘s Karamo Brown, The Bachelorette‘s Hannah Brown, Christie Brinkley‘s daughter, Sailor Brinkley-Cook, country star Lauren Alaina, actor James Van Der Beek, NFL legend Ray Lewis, The Office star Kate Flannery, pop star Ally Brooke, former basketball player Lamar Odom and comedian/actor Kel Mitchell.

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.