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A very exclusive, very important Q&A with a ‘Dancing With the Stars’ prediction expert

Ginger Zee, Nyle DiMarco and Paige VanZant, the finalists of “DWTS.” (Washington Post illustration; iStock; ABC)
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After covering “Dancing with the Stars” for many years, you start to pick up on the show’s subtleties. (Yes, a show that features six tons of glitter and a “Mirror Ball Trophy” really does have subtleties.) Honestly, it’s the only way I can explain that for the fourth — fourth — season in a row, I have correctly predicted the winner of the show after the very first episode.

After Nyle DiMarco won the Mirror Ball Trophy on Tuesday night as expected, I have decided to gift the public with a very exclusive interview where I share my secrets, answering all the burning questions sure to be on everyone’s minds:

Nyle DiMarco’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’ victory was clear from the beginning

Q: First, I’m a huge fan of your work. But anyway, does anyone care who wins “Dancing With the Stars?”
A: Excellent question, and one asked by thousands of Internet commenters every year, which definitely never gets old. Although you might not know anyone who watches it, “DWTS” is one of the most-watched shows in the country with around 11 million viewers, so plenty of people have an opinion. Also, we’re guessing you can make a killing if you’re a “DWTS” gambler, a hobby that probably exists.

Q: When did your incredible prediction streak begin? 
A: Well, it all started in September 2014 when I fearlessly ranked Alfonso Ribiero (Carlton from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air) as No. 1 after the season premiere. Ever since, I’ve ranked the eventual winner as the No. 1 dancer in every premiere episode recap, including Rumer Willis (Spring 2015); Bindi Irwin (Fall 2015) and, of course, Nyle DiMarco this season.

Q: Is there a trick to predicting the winner, or is it just your unparalleled talent?
A: Here is the piece of advice I would give: Watch the premiere. That’s it! You really don’t need to tune in again. Before the premiere this season, I wrote that Antonio Brown could easily be the potential winner, because athletes always do well in the competition and the Steelers have a huge fanbase. But it wasn’t until I actually watched the first episode that it became clear that while Brown would do well (he wound up coming in fourth), DiMarco was the champion.

Q: Okay, so what does the premiere show, besides the obvious?
A: You have to assess the five factors that determine whether a contestant will go far: nostalgia; name recognition; likability; an inspirational story…and, oh right, dancing ability. Each contestant has a different level of each quality, so the trick is to suss out the one that will make the most impact. The premiere gives the most insight into this question, because you are introduced to all the dancers and their clip packages, which hint at what storyline the producers are going to create for them throughout the season.

Q: Who was the easiest prediction?
A: Probably Bindi Irwin, who hit all five points above: People fondly remember her late father, Steve Irwin; the whole family is hugely popular; she overcame obstacles after her father passed away; she was bursting with personality; and the judges declared her performance was the best of the night, even though she was just 17. That made Bindi’s victory pretty obvious.

Q: Who was the most difficult to predict?
A: I was pretty shocked that Rumer Willis actually won, even though she killed it as a dancer — I truly thought Noah Galloway, a motivational speaker and double amputee, had a great shot at the trophy. He came in third, which is the same way I ranked him after the premiere. Hey, when you have a gift, you have a gift…

Q: Can you keep the streak alive next season?
A: You know…I want to pretend to be modest and say that it will be difficult, but really, I feel pretty good about it, even without knowing the cast. Frankly, once you really get the hang of how reality TV competitions operate, the mechanics become far too obvious.

Read more:

Predicting the big storylines of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ this season

The 20 types of celebrities that go on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

‘Dancing With the Stars’ should stay away from guest judges like Abby Lee Miller