Maksim Chmerkovskiy says he’s hanging up his “Dancing With the Stars” shoes.
The widely proclaimed “bad boy of ballroom” (though he believes that moniker makes no sense) and most recent “DWTS” champ made the announcement Tuesday on “The View.”
“I’m done dancing [on] ‘Dancing With the Stars,’” the 34-year-old said. “I feel like it’s time.”
“It’s an amazing thing and I’m blessed. I feel very honored. Like I said, I look like a lot of things but inside I’m genuinely happy and I love this experience.”
The hunky Ukrainian hoofer appeared on 14 seasons of the long-running ABC dance competition’s 18 cycles. He’s been paired with actress Tia Carrere, singer Willa Ford, boxer Laila Ali, Spice Girl Melanie Brown, Misty May-Treanor, actresses Denise Richards and Debi Mazar, TV host and current “DWTS” co-host Erin Andrews, singer Brandy Norwood, actress Kirstie Alley, Olympic soccer player Hope Solo, actress Melissa Gilbert, Alley (again for the All-Stars season) and finally Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis.
He bid adieu to the ballroom back in 2013 after the show’s Season 16 finale. He popped back in as a guest judge on Season 17 then returned as a competitor for Season 18 when he won his first Mirror Ball trophy with Davis. (Who knows, he could always make another cameo on the judges’ panel.)
“I lost the show. I stayed away, and when I came back, the show was not the same,” he continued. “I was different ... certain things aggravated me unnecessarily. When I came back, I saw amazing talent -- Val included with everybody the new pros and some people that I haven’t worked with -- and I looked at it and I was like, look they can do so much more and so much better and I’m taking up a huge spot and I don’t wanna take it up anymore.”
However, when peppered repeatedly by co-host Sherri Shepherd for perhaps leaving because of his rumored relationship with Jennifer Lopez and the possibility of her “needing” him as one of her dancers, Chmerkovskiy grinned from ear to ear but tried to keep the conversation on his career rather than his love life.
“I feel like I’ve done a lot and not enough for me,” he continued, speaking over Shepherd. “I feel like, I looked at last season while I was there and I fell in love with the show and I left the show and I stayed away and the show was not the same.”
The champ has teamed up with his brother Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who joined him on “The View,” for the production of “Sway: A Dance Trilogy,” and the two are also doing a traveling tour called “Ballroom With a Twist.”
Promotional duties for those coinciding projects has set up the dancer for the “are-you-or-aren’t-you” line of questioning that keeps bringing the conversation back to the “First Love” songstress and her proclivity for dating (and marrying) dancers.
“I’m just focused on dancing,” he told People when asked about the J.Lo rumors. “I’m not interested in talking about anything other than the show."
Rag-time renegade -- now that’s a moniker. Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.