With each new season of Dancing With the Stars, fans can’t wait to see which of their favorite celebrities will be trying their luck on the stage. While the show has welcomed all sorts of big name actors and actresses, this season they added an athlete you may not be too familiar with, Victor Espinoza. While he may not be a household name, Victor Espinoza is one of the greatest talents in his sport, and this season he attempted to try to bring some of his success as a jockey to the dance floor. While he won’t be bringing home any awards this season, he definitely made a pretty impressive impact during his time on the show. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Victor Espinoza.
He’s enjoying the single life
For most people, the idea of getting married and having children by a certain age is something they’ve always looked forward to. However, Victor Espinoza has decided to take a bit of a different route. He has spent most of his life trying to hone his skills as a jockey, and as a result, has never had a wife or children.
He paid his way through jockey school
Yes, there is a such thing as jockey school – and no, it’s not free. When he was just 17-years-old, Victor Espinoza paid his way through jockey school by driving a bus in Mexico City. Well, it looks like his hard work has paid off.
He is a very dedicated athlete
In order for any athlete to find success at the professional level, they have to be willing to put in long hours of hard work. Throughout his career, Victor Espinoza worked tirelessly to make sure that he was one of the best jockeys in the world. However, despite his great success, Espinoza went through a period of time when his career seemed to be losing momentum. However, he decided that he wasn’t going to give up. According to Espinoza, “One day, I woke up and I said ‘This is not how I’m going to end up my career.” In 2013, Espinoza hired a new agent and decided to refocus, and his career began to reach new heights.
He didn’t speak English when he moved to the United States
Victor Espinoza was born in the Mexican city of Tulacingo, and he lived in Mexico until 1990 when he left for the United States with just a high school education. When he first arrived in the country he didn’t speak English, and he quickly learned that the language barrier would hold him back from earning the success he always dreamed of. Unfortunately; however, Espinoza could not afford to pay for any sort of formal school, but he didn’t let that hold him back. Instead, Victor Espinoza learned English by only watching shows in English.
He was raised on a farm
Victor Espinoza may be rolling in dough now, but as a child he came from humble beginning on his parents’ goat farm in Mexico. However, while the work wasn’t pretty, it definitely instilled something in Espinoza and perhaps even taught him to love animals.
He’s all about giving back
Over the course of his career, Victor Espinoza has earned millions of dollars – and he’s been generous with it all. Espinoza donates 10% of all his earning to City of Hope National Medical Center which is known for specializing in cancer treatment. Aside from just donating money, Espinoza has also spent time with patients at the hospital, and in turn City of Hope has cheered him on over the years. But as is 10% of his earnings wasn’t enough, Espinoza donated 100% of his Belmont Stakes earnings to the hospital after winning the Triple Crown.
He has 11 siblings
These days, it’s not too often that you hear about someone coming from a family with a really large number of siblings. However, Victor Espinoza comes from a family of 12 children of which he is the 11th.
He’s made history several times
Sure, there are a lot of great athletes in the world, but not too many of them can say that they’ve made history. Fortunately for Victor Espinoza; however, he can say that he’s made history on more than one occasion. Espinoza is the first jockey to get three chances to win the Trip Crown, and when he won in 2015, he became the oldest and first Hispanic jockey to win the much sought after award.
He’s only 5’2″
The camera may add 10 pounds, but it doesn’t add inches. While it’s clear that Victor Espinoza is a little on the short side, you may be wondering just how short he is. Well, Victor Espinoza stands at just 5’2.” While that height might not be an asset to any other sport, it’s perfect for a jockey. In order to ride as quickly and smoothly is possible, jockeys should be short and petite.
He’s met the queen
There aren’t too many people who can say they’ve had the honor of actually getting to meet the Queen of England, but Victor Espinoza is one of the lucky ones. Last year, he had a chance to meet Queen Elizabeth and the two actually got to make a few memories. According to Espinoza, “I was coming out of the jockeys’ room and I heard this voice, ‘Victor. I said, ‘Yeah, what’s up?’ and then I looked and Oh my God, it was the Queen! She called me by name, Victor…I talked to her a couple times, actually. We had a long conversation on Thursday of the week I was there, but then I had to leave because I had to get on my horse. I don’t exactly remember what I said, but we were having fun. She asked me if I liked it there, if I liked the track, the city.”
(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Crown Royal)