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By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
And the Dancing With the Stars winner is…
First we have to tell you how the two-hour, tension-filled finale played out…
All the Season 16 competitors, including Dorothy Hamill who withdrew after one week because of a spine problem, returned to the ballroom to open the Dancing With the Stars finale Tuesday with a dance to the theme that has been used in promos for the show all season, Pitbull’s Don’t Stop the Party.
“It’s a competition and a celebration,” said host Tom Bergeron.
He and co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet took a moment to urge donations for the Red Cross relief efforts for Oklahoma.
Then country star Kellie Pickler, in second place going into Tuesday’s results show, and pro partner Derek Hough performed an encore of their moving freestyle dance from the night before.
Bergeron announced that because ABC’s website went down Monday partway through voting, all votes cast on ABC.com were thrown out. Only votes cast on Facebook, via texts and by phone were factored in to the final tally.
First couple to be eliminated? Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and her pro partner USA TODAY blogger Mark Ballas!
Aly was in third place going into the results show. Judges had raved about her improvement throughout the season, her biggest problem being a lack of emotion, and she had trouble “counting” the music.
“This has been the best experience of my life,” she said. “Thank you, Dancing With the Stars. It’s been so amazing.”
The three female finalists and a troupe of female pros took the floor in red outfits to dance to Beyonce’s Run the World (Girls) as a tribute to “the women of Season 16.”
Wynnona belted out a serious, cowboy-vibed rendition I Want to Know What Love Is.
The three finalists – Kellie, Zendaya and NFL star Jacoby Jones – still had to perform an “instant” dance for one more score to be added to Monday’s scores. While they were backstage prepping, Real Housewives star Lisa Vanderpump took to the floor with pro Gleb Savchenko. Judge Len Goodman cut in for a few minutes to show off his foxtrot ability. Hamill did a Viennese waltz and was joined by Kristi Yamaguchi, who had inspired Hamill to go on the show in the first place.
“How sweet was that?!” said Bergeron.
Andy Dick returned to the ballroom to perform his Mad Hatter -themed jazz dance to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. The audience waved bright-colored glowsticks as Psy sang Gentleman. And Pitbull performed Hands Up.
Pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy showed off the “14 stitches” that he got today, he told Brooke, after Zendaya elbowed him just above his eye on Monday during rehearsals. “Five on the inside and nine on the outside,” he said. But he was ready for a final dance with the young star who was in the top spot on the leaderboard going in to the show.
Jacoby was up first. He and Karina danced a sizzling salsa — until the end, when he was going to jump over Karina but a camera that was too close made him stop a little short and seemed to knock Karina down but they turned it into a planned move with him catching her head between his legs. He repeated it, as if to prove it was done on purpose, but he told Bergeron he was concerned about “safety … Forget the dance!” Len called him a “breath of fresh air. While Jacoby’s mom held up a “10″ paddle, Bruno raved about his “charisma.” Carrie Ann called him a “champion.” Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30 Total: 86
Kellie was next. Sporting a skirt and bikini bra top, Kellie’s jive started with Derek Hough doing a flip in the air. They kicked and flicked their way through a cute routine. Bruno raved, “Great balls of fire! … You remind me of Julianne Hough .. the accuracy, precision and technique.” Carrie Ann said, “You guys are like the wonder twins.” Len said, “Kellie, I’m telling you: You’re the bee’s knees, my mama’s pajamas, my uncles’ carbuncle. You’re awesome!” Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30 Total: 94
Zendaya and Val danced an instant jive to Rockin’ Robin. Her hot pink tennis shoes made it easy for her to move and twirl across the floor. Carrie Ann said Zendaya “has such a magical quality” to her dancing. Len said it’s “incredible” how she dances with such “maturity.” And he loved that she’s not just a dancer, but a “performer.” When the show’s over, he said, “Spread your wings. You’re going to fly away, girl!” Bruno said, “Twinkle, twinkle little star. You’re going to go very far.” Zendaya told Brooke that it “sucks” the show is ending. “Thank you for being part of me growing up,” she told her partner. Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30 Total: 95
One more song — by American Idol alum Jessica Sanchez, who sang Pitbull’s Feel This Moment.
The scores were then combined with votes cast by you on Monday.
Taking third place: Jacoby Jones. “Out of all my training I’ve had, I’ve never had a woman push me like she did.” He joked he’ll be “catching the ball like this now,” and he gracefully spread his arm out.
And the Dancing With the Stars winner is … Kellie Pickler. And her pro partner Derek Hough.
“Oh my gosh! This is amazing!” said Kellie. She and Derek raised up the coveted mirrorball trophy as confetti and streamers flew everywhere.