HELIO CASTRONEVES, last month's winner of ABC's
Dancing with the Stars, banked $1.7 million on the IndyCar circuit in 2007, so
why would Castroneves (right), or any well-paid athlete, spend eight weeks
cha-cha-chaing on a show that pays a fraction of that? One word: exposure.
Within months of competing on Stars this summer, Laila
Ali, who'd never boxed in front of a network audience, landed gigs hosting The
View, a Nickelodeon show and NBC's American Gladiators revival. Now
Castroneves—hardly a household name three months ago—says TV and film offers
are pouring in. It all makes Dancing with the Stars an easy sell when courting
athletes as contestants, and Deena Katz, senior talent producer for Stars, says
you can expect at least one athlete to compete each season. Says Katz, "I
want a quarterback."