Sean Spicer's casting sparked outrage at the beginning of the season due to his ties to President Donald Trump


Sean Spicer has survived yet another week on Dancing with the Stars.

After Monday’s episode of the ABC reality dancing competition series, the controversial contestant — who has consistently received low scores throughout the weeks — opened up about the moment he realized he was safe.

“I knew what my scores were and I knew how the rest of the cast did,” the former press secretary, 48, told PEOPLE. “To be called out first was just a massive relief. For me, this week was about bouncing back from last week and showing Lindsay [Arnold] that all of her hard work had paid off.”

Sean Spicer
Sean Spicer
| Credit: Dave Kotinsky/Getty

“I know how hard everyone else is working too,” he continued. “You feel bad because you’ve seen their progression. It’s tough. It’s this mixed emotion we’ve had for the past few weeks, where we’re watching someone you’re close to and watch them go when your scores weren’t as high.”

Spicer’s pro partner for the week, Jenna Johnson (who stepped in last minute for fellow pro Lindsay Arnold), was noticeably just as shocked.

“That makes two of us,” Spicer wrote on Twitter, along with a clip of both him and Johnson visibly confused at being safe from elimination. “But seriously thank you to everyone who believed in me and voted, can’t thank you all enough. especially Jenna for stepping in and Lindsay for getting me here.”

The Office star Kate Flannery and her pro dancer partner Pasha Pashkov were eliminated after landing in the bottom two.

When it came to last night’s results, Judge Carrie Ann Inaba was nearly at a loss for words.

“Tonight was shocking, especially when you see somebody with the caliber of dancing who got a 30, Ally today, with Kate out there,” the longtime judge told PEOPLE after the episode. “We’ve seen already Karamo went home last week, and we’re seeing good dancers go home. And this season we’ve upped our game as far as judges, and we’re really going after the technique in effort to make sure that the best dancer wins.”

Carrie Ann Inaba
Credit: Carrie Ann Inaba

“And we’ve seen it now, that the competition is fierce this season,” she continued. “I feel like everybody’s elevated to that level. But people are voting the way they want to. And they have a right to, but I would like to beg the public to remember that this is a dance competition. Of course, vote with your heart, but also take a moment to consider everybody else in the competition, and are you voting for the right person? I’m not sure.”

Spicer’s casting sparked outrage at the beginning of the season, but President Donald Trump‘s former press secretary said he wasn’t shocked by the backlash.

“I’ve been living this for a while. I expect it,” Spicer told reporters in September.

“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,” he said.

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