Tony Dovolani: The Secret to My DWTS Success Is 'My Wife'
The DWTS pro dancer, who proposed to his wife on their first date, has renewed his contract with the show for three more years, he tells PEOPLE exclusively
Tony Dovolani gives credit where credit is due – to his wife, Lina.
“My wife is my rock,” Dovolani, the longest-running dance pro on Dancing with the Stars, tells PEOPLE.
“She is the most amazing person I have ever met in my life. She takes care of the kids. She takes care of the house. She makes sure that I am successful. If I didn’t have her, I don’t think I would be where I am today,” he says. “Marrying her is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”
The dance pro says he knew she was “the one” when he met Lina in 1998. “I met her on a blind date and proposed to her four hours after I met her. I got off an exit and bought a ring. You can tell I’m spontaneous!”
Dovolani says Lina said “yes” to his impromptu proposal that night, but admits that she says she didn’t. “It doesn’t matter,” he says. “We got married in November 1999 and have been happy ever since.” The couple has three children.
Dovolani is also happy to be returning to DWTS. Starting March 16, when the show’s 20th season premieres on ABC, Dovolani will try to cha cha and tango his way to victory with celeb partner Suzanne Somers. (He won in season 15 with dance partner Melissa Rycroft of The Bachelor.)
Legendary singer Patti LaBelle, Rumer Willis and NFL star Michael Sam are among the celebrities who will be vying for a Mirror Ball trophy.
Dovolani has renewed his contract with the show for the next three years, he tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I’ve been on the show since season 2 and when last season ended, my contract had ended. The executives asked, ‘How do you feel about the show?’ I expressed how much I love the show and how big a part of my life the show has been. They were really pleased to hear that because they had every intention of asking me back.”
He says he is happy that the show has done so well, and for so long. “This is our ten-year anniversary – 20 seasons. How many shows can actually say that?”
Since he started with DWTS in 2005, he says the show has become “a household name. I love being able to travel and have people tell me they grew up watching it. They say our show has connected them with their siblings or with their kids or their grandkids.”