The audience booed and the judges leapt from their seats Tuesday night as "Dancing With the Stars" host Tom Bergeron announced the news: Fan-favorite Sabrina Bryan and her partner, Mark Ballas, had been eliminated from the competition.
The surprising revelation left the Cheetah Girl clearly upset as Ballas and other cast mates tried to console her with hugs. Even judge Carrie Ann Inaba began to tear up.
But on "Good Morning America" today, Bryan expressed a positive outlook about her experience on the show.
"At the end of the day we feel so honored that … we were able to get a 30," she said. "We feel lucky to be able to have that."
What was most shocking about the outcome was that Tuesday night's show marked the first time the duo had been in the bottom two positions. The couple had scored well from the onset of the competition, even attaining the season's first perfect score. But some warned that the duo's strength could become their weakness.
"We had a lot of advice from other celebrities and producers that if we came out too strong we could get a backlash," Bryan said.
But instead of scaling back their energetic performances, the pair continued to give it their best shot. "We wanted to be true to ourselves," Bryan said.
After Monday night's routine, the judges called the Cheetah girl's performance too "powerful" and "hard." They gave the duo a 25.
Voters may have assumed Bryan was safe based on past episodes and decided not to vote for her, even though they loved her performance. Post-elimination fan message boards have echoed that sentiment.
"Maybe in past seasons that kind of thought pattern was OK," Bryan said. "[But] if you want a couple to be there to the end, you have to vote for them," she said, citing as an example Spice Girl Melanie Brown's surprising fall to the bottom two earlier this season.
Even though Bryan has been eliminated, she said she hopes she and Ballas will have the opportunity to dance again.
"We love performing together," Bryan said of her partner. "Don't feel bad about it. It's only the beginning for [us]."