The 33-year-old Entourage actor said he was "actively pursuing" Hough during an interview with Howard Stern last week, People reported. Connolly said the two met at the Los Angeles club Hyde and added he talks to Hough "practically" every day and even sat in the studio audience for a Dancing with the Stars fifth-season performance episode taping.
"We're just friends," Hough told People about her relationship with Connolly, who told Stern he scores the professional dancer a "15."
"Aw. That's really sweet. That's very flattering," Hough told People. "But we're just friends."
Flattering Hough with his words apparently wasn't enough for Connolly, as Peoplereported Wednesday that he paid "several thousand dollars" on a diamond and 18-karat, white-gold ring for the Dancing pro.
"[Connolly] knew exactly what he was going to get her and was clear about who it was for," a patron at L.A.'s Tracy Allen Fine Jewelry told People.
While Hough's representative confirmed to People she did receive the ring from Connolly, she once again "insisted" the two are "just friends" and "not dating."
Hough, who reportedly wore the ring during Monday night's Dancing with the Stars peformance show, is no stranger to hearing rumors about her romantic relationships.
Earlier this year, she canceled her August 2007 wedding to former dancer Zach Wilson less than two weeks before ABC's May broadcast of Dancing with the Stars' fourth-season finale, in which she was crowned champ with celebrity partner Apolo Anton Ohno.
While Hough said the wedding was postponed due to her busy rehearsal schedule with Ohno and Ohno subsequently denied there was any romance, the wedding cancellation fueled speculation that Hough and the two-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater were a romantic item.
"No!," Hough told People at the time. "[Zach and I] are still together. We just want [more time] before we get married. It's all good!"
Wilson later told TV Guide that he and Hough still planned to wed and hadn't "fallen away from each other at all," however given Hough's recent Connolly denials haven't made any mention of a still-ongoing relationship with Wilson, things would appear to have changed.
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