It was the first time in several seasons that there was no lone frontrunner leading into the “Dancing with the Stars” final, but after 10 weeks of competition, one team has emerged as the winners of the mirrorball.
He missed out on a Super Bowl ring back in February, but with the help of professional dancer Kym Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward now has a mirrorball for his trophy shelf.
“Starting this competition, I never thought I’d be in the finals, but I owe it all to Kym. She’s an amazing teacher,” a humbled Hines said after learning the news that he and his partner beat out Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy for the top spot.
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas took third, as they were the first team eliminated on Tuesday’s finale.
Hines thanked the judges for their constructive criticism over the weeks, but also threw his gratitude to the football fans back in Pittsburgh.
“We love Steeler Nation, Bulldog Nation (University of Georgia)… I hope I represented well,” he said.
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Kirstie, who took second, reflected on her journey, telling co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke, “Dancing” was a special time in her life.
“It’s like the most extraordinary adventure I’ve ever been on in my life and I want to thank Maks,” she said turning to the newly tamed ballroom bad boy. “I love Maks.”
“It’s been a special season,” Maks responded. “But I don’t only have words for Kirstie, I have words for the previous nine partners I had because this is [the] 10th trophy that I got and thank you for this, this has been an amazing, amazing season.”
Hines and Kym beat Kirstie and Maks to the top spot based on a 50 percent weight given to the viewer votes, and the other half to the judges’ scores.
Before the winners were named, there was one additional round that pushed Hines and Kym over the top.
Performing their favorite dance from the season for just judges’ scores, Hines and Kym opted for their Steelers-inspired samba, which received a perfect 30 out of 30.
“You bring every dance to life,” head judge Len Goodman raved.
Kirstie too left an impression with her favorite dance – re-doing her opening night cha cha with Maks, in the same outfit she danced in back in March.
“I think it’ll be fun to show the fans and the judges that my dress is half the size it was in week 1,” she said in the clip package before the number, adding, “This journey has been beyond what I ever thought this journey would be.”
The number actually earned the pair their very first perfect score of the season from the panel.
“Kirstie, you cheeky girl, you saved the best for last,” judge Bruno Tonioli said. “You’ve never danced better. Brilliant.”
Kym’s win with Hines now makes the Australian professional dancer a two-time winner. She previously won in Season 9 with Donny Osmond.
This season, though, was an emotional ride.
While the pair proved they were contenders from the start, they hit a major setback during the week leading up to the semifinals late last month, when Kym was injured as the pair rehearsed a series of flips.
The incident, which saw Hines – and all of his football playing body weight – land on top of Kym, pressing her neck into the ground beneath him, sent her to the hospital and caused a sprain in her neck.
But it could have been much worse.
Although the two performed just days later, on Monday, May 16, netting two perfect scores from the judges, Hines was moved to tears, later telling Access Hollywood that Kym’s recovery moved him greatly.
“I try not to watch the replay, but I caught the second part of it — I didn’t know they was going to replay it like that and I really got sick to my stomach,” Hines told Access after the show in mid-May. “I was really emotional because, you know, we just did our dance and I was just happy that she’s dancing again.
“It really didn’t matter about the scores. You have to put things in perspective — we’re in it to win it, but at the same time, I’m glad that she’s standing and doing something that she’s loved to do over again, so I’m very happy,” he added.