Actor J.R. Martinez won the mirror ball trophy on “Dancing With the Stars” tonight during a surprising finale in which the top-scoring Ricki Lake failed to advance to the top two.
“Thank you America for believing in us,” he said, and turning to his partner, Karina Smirnoff, added: “You are amazing.”
The top three were Lake, Martinez and Rob Kardashian, and Lake was leading the pack when the scores from the first round of tonight’s performances – in which the stars had to reprise their favorite dances of the season — were combined with last night’s totals and votes from the viewing audience. For Lake, the former talk show host who has dominated in the scoring all season, it wasn’t enough. She was knocked out of the running for the win, taking third place.
“I’ve loved basically every minute of this,” Lake said as she took her final bow alongside partner Derek Hough.
The final two – Kardashian and Martinez - then performed an instant samba to music that was selected for them during the show. They both earned perfect scores of 30 points, and Kardashian led Martinez by the slimmest of leads — with 113 points to 112 after four rounds of dancing in the two-night finale.
Lake and Martinez have been front-runners all season, but Kardashian’s technical skill had improved in recent weeks, and he had surged in scores and popularity. He earned his first perfect score of the season last night.
Watch the three finalists dance live tomorrow on “Good Morning America.”
Before the announcement of Lake’s third-place finish, she had reprised her thrilling tango set to the theme from the movie “Psycho.” Judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli were as enthusiastic about her performance tonight as they were when she first did it during the show’s movie themes week, awarding her a perfect 30.
Kardashian was next, and he earned 26 points for his elegant fox trot. “You’ve got the best footwork of virtually any guy I’ve seen on this show,” Goodman, the head judge, told him after his performance.
Martinez, who injured twisted his ankle last week, followed, reprising the jive. Judges chided Martinez and Smirnoff earlier in the season, saying the pair had included too much lindy hop and a disallowed lift. His energetic performance tonight met with the judges’ approval, and earned 28 points.
Last night’s scores were combined with the scores from tonight’s performances. The competitor with the highest combination of judges’ and viewers’ scores was declared the winner.
Kardashian had been in the lead going into the start of the finale after last night’s performances.
Tonight’s show included musical performances by Lady Antebellum and dances by all the celebrities who have been voted off this season.
The show’s season 13 has been one of the most talked-about yet, in part for its inclusion of its first-ever transgender contestant, Chaz Bono, and the early departure of stars who had scored well and were considered good performers.
The professionals also made news. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the dancing pro who partnered World Cup soccer star Hope Solo, created an uproar when, in defending Solo from a harsh judges’ review, he suggested that Goodman “get out” of the industry.
He later explained that he was frustrated over the perceived inconsistency in judges’ scoring, saying he believed others were being scored more easily just for effort, while other contenders were being judged too rigidly on technicality.
Solo made it to the semifinals but was voted off last week. The others in this season’s cast were TV legal analyst Nancy Grace, actor David Arquette, activist Chaz Bono, fashion guru Carson Kressley, singer Chynna Phillips, reality TV star Kristin Cavallari, Italian model Elisabetta Canalis and NBA star Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest).