In theory, it's the celebrities who should want it more on Dancing With the Stars.
After all, the professional ballroom dance partners, such as Karina Smirnoff, the show's reigning dancing queen, have faced much higher stakes in their careers.
How much could the show's mirror ball trophy really mean to a five-time U.S. national champ?
"Oh, you'd be surprised," says Smirnoff, who won the trophy last season with J.R. Martinez. "I do get very competitive. I like to win.
"When I am competing and I am close to the prize, I become like a horse with blinders on. I can see nothing else."
Now this fiery Ukrainian is determined to repeat as champion. Meaning her celebrity partner, singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, had better want it just as much. Smirnoff will be pushing him to achieve nothing less than excellence.
Season 14 of Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday on ABC.
The lineup of 12 celebrities is a mishmash of actors, athletes and musical artists. As usual, they have no ballroom dancing experience, but they've received a crash course in the foxtrot and the cha-cha.
By season's end, these novice dancers, some of whom are so inept that they begin with two left feet, will have undergone transformations that are nothing short of inspirational.
That's what has made Dancing With the Stars one of TV's top-rated shows every year. It's so big, in fact, that even the professional dance partners have become stars in their own right.
This is Smirnoff's 11th season on the show. Now she is recognized by fans everywhere she goes. People ask for autographs and want to pose for pictures with her.
"I was well-known before in the ballroom world, but not so much to the everyday public," Smirnoff says. "But Dancing With the Stars makes you a household name. I was just at the airport and people kept coming up and asking how the show is going."
Smirnoff has made the most of her popularity, posing for a variety of magazine photo shoots, launching her own makeup line (from the Girlactik brand), releasing a workout DVD ( Shape Up With Karina Smirnoff) and opening her own dance studio.
"It makes me feel super-blessed and grateful and humble to be appreciated for doing what I love to do," she says.
Among this season's biggest names are tennis legend Martina Navratilova, singing icon Gladys Knight, NFL superstar Donald Driver and actress Melissa Gilbert.
As for Smirnoff's new partner, she promises that DeGraw will be a formidable presence.
"He's got a great sense of humor and a great work ethic," she says. "He's never danced before in his life, but he's got natural rhythm and ability. We're working hard to make sure that our journey progresses, so that every week you'll see solid improvement. I think people will be pleasantly surprised.
"I don't want to call him Twinkle Toes, but I think everybody in his team already does!"
When Smirnoff made her Dancing With the Stars debut in Season 3, partnering with actor and Extra host Mario Lopez, she didn't expect this to become her biggest claim to fame. (The couple lost the trophy to former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith and his partner, Cheryl Burke.)
"I thought I would do maybe one or two seasons," she admits. "But the moment you start doing Dancing With the Stars, you get hooked. I get so much pleasure from being part of this show.
"Now it's Season 14 and I'm praying we're going to have 114 seasons!"
Originally posted by DAVID MARTINDALE