Erin Andrews Talks Death Threats, Romance Rumors, "Bimbo" Slam
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
It would have been a tough week for Erin Andrews without all the headlines. After all, she's still in the running for that Dancing with the Stars mirror ball trophy, which means long rehearsals and grueling physical training, plus a live performance for 24 million viewers.

But the ESPN sports reporter has more stressful, even hurtful, obstacles to cope with this week: the FBI won't arrest the man who has been emailing Andrews death threats because of his free speech rights, while one disapproving writer at the Toronto Star tore Andrews apart for her choice to appear on the show, calling her a "ballroom bimbo"--and worse. People magazine came out this week with a definitive report about Andrews' and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy's "hot romance": a story Andrews says is definitively untrue. (Her explanation in one word? "Sarcasm.")

Sports Illustrated spoke to Erin about the threats, her critics and the tabloid fodder, plus her future at ESPN, where her contract is up this year. Check out the interview highlights (for Dancing with the Stars fans) after the jump. Full interview available here and here.

Her reaction to the Toronto Star "bimbo" article:
"I'm just confused because I guess it's OK for an NFL player and a gold medalist to do the show and be taken seriously, but nobody else is allowed. People say, "How do you expect to be taken seriously?" Well, Evan Lysacek is taking this so seriously. The guy just won a gold medal, has tons of endorsements, celebrities around the world want to meet him. Chad Ochocinco takes this so serious. He and Cheryl Burke are in the studio seven to eight hours a day. So that's my biggest confusion with the few people who judge me and say this is the wrong thing to do. I don't know what damage I'm doing. I'm basically killing myself to not embarrass myself. I've been in the top three in scoring each week, behind an athlete and a professional dancer and singer."

On her and Maksim's "hot romance" ... or lack thereof:
"According to People, our "romance" is official, but People must know people because we don't know the people that they know. The thing is, what Maks and I do joking around gets taken seriously. After looking at the article, Maks said to me, "You would've thought we were on some beach riding a horse. It was like a romance novel." And the ending of the story [Editor's note: The last paragraph of the story quotes Andrews as saying, "At some points, it's like we're dating; at others, it's like, oh, we so broke up two days ago. Now it's almost like we're past dating..." The magazine then describes Andrews as grinning playfully at Maks and adding, "Now we're working on a kid!"] absolutely killed me in so many ways because one night in front of the paparazzi when they asked Maks what's going on with us, [cast member] Derek [Hough] was joking and said, "Oh, they're already working on their babies," and that was the quote I made at the end of the People article because it's been an ongoing joke with the cast, and they ran that as if it were literal. All the things we said about each other to the author of the article was in a sarcastic tone. That's the only way I know how to talk. And none of that was interpreted that way. When we read it yesterday, we were like, "What?!? That was the biggest joke!"

How she's coping with the stalking and death threats against her:
"It just puts me back in the spotlight and makes me an example of how stalking is for real and it needs to be taken seriously, and I think it forces me even more to say to myself, "OK, how am I going to use this platform, how can I show women they have to be smart about their safety and protection?" But it's been a difficult week."

How Dancing with the Stars has helped her cope:
"When this happened, I thought, Thank goodness I'm here and around all these people, because I don't have time to sit and cry about it. I have to be in the dance studio, in front of a camera. I have to get my routine done and ready to go. It's good for me to be busy and it's good for me to be around a group of people who are used to being in the public eye because they know how you're feeling, which is nice"

On missing her day job at ESPN, and getting back to it this fall:
"Before I know it, it's going to be time for college football. There is, in the back of my mind, something I'd like to do with female safety and crimes against women, so maybe that's something I can do in addition to ESPN. But you know me, I'm obsessed with sports. I miss it a lot right now. I feel like I was cheated out of March Madness because I didn't get to see any of it. I was walking up and down the press line last Monday asking, "Does anyone have a Duke score?" Nobody knew what I was talking about. This is such a different world for me."

On her partner Maksim, and treating Dancing like a pro sport:
"I really wanted Maks as a partner because he reminded me of Urban Meyer and Nick Saban -- your no-nonsense kind of coach. I wanted someone who wasn't going take any of my bull. I hurt my back this week. It really, really hurt, but I wasn't going to tell the doctors about it because I love athletes who tough it out. So, I didn't want to go to the doctor, but Maks called production and said, "I need to get her a doctor because I need her back to be OK."