TV personality Melissa Rycroft won the 'Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars' championship tonight, taking home the mirror ball trophy and bragging rights as the popular reality show's champion of all champions.
When co-host Tom Bergeron announced Rycroft and her partner Tony Dovolani had won, Dovolani started jumping and cheering. The pair were soon surrounded by other members of the cast. They were hugged, kissed and lifted into the air.
Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson took second place, and actress Kelly Monaco was third.
The three women made it to the final three following 10 weeks of fierce competition featuring complicated and unusual routines. They comprised the first all-female finale in fifteen seasons of "Dancing With the Stars."
Rycroft had topped the leaderboard going into tonight's finale. She earned perfect scores for her two performances on Monday, finishing with a total of 60 points. Monaco followed with 59 points, and Johnson was third with 57.
Tonight's show opened with the entire season 15 cast doing a routine. Then the finalists and their partners chose music and dance styles and had less than one hour to rehearse an instant dance. The scores from those dances were added to their totals from Monday night. Viewer votes from last night were added to the two-night totals. The viewer votes counted for half the combined score.
Rycroft had the highest combined score of viewer votes and judges' scores.
Tonight's Instant Dances
Melissa Rycroft: The TV personality danced a samba to the song "Life is a Highway." She and partner Dovolani have done well with sambas this season, and one of her perfect scores Monday was for a samba, but judges were not as impressed with tonight's samba. Judge Bruno Tonioli said she'd done a great job to difficult music, while Carrie Ann Inaba felt Rycroft was "a little bit behind the music." Head Judge Len Goodman agreed that the performance hadn't been as impressive as her other samba, but said of Rycroft's overall performance: "You've been my greatest pleasure to watch. You've been fantastic." Judges awarded Rycroft 28.5 points, for a two-night total of 88.5 out of a possible maximum of 90 points.
Shawn Johnson: The Olympic athlete and her partner Derek Hough drew a cha-cha to the song "Respect," and they earned a standing ovation for the routine. Tonioli said Johnson was going out "with a bang. That was a grand finale! Perfection!" Inaba said Johnson started and ended the season a star, and Goodman added: "Derek has thrown some fantastic choreography at you. Whatever you've got, you've coped with … I tell you, that was fantastic." They awarded Johnson 30 points, for a two-night total of 87 points.
Kelly Monaco: The actress and Val Chmerkovskiy, her pro partner, danced a jive to the song "Cat and Mouse." Judges were impressed with the routine. Inaba said it was "fantastic," and while Tonioli thought Monaco's balance was off at times, he said the routine was magnificent. Goodman agreed. "You're clear, you're crisp, your spins are fantastic, you've comes out here and you've really gone for this," he said. "You've nailed the footwork, you've worked hard. Well done!" Monaco earned 28.5 points, for a two-night total of 87.5 points.
Before the final three performed their final dances, the audience was entertained with routines from the celebrities that were eliminated during the season: Pamela Anderson, Kirstie Alley, Drew Lachey, Joey Fatone, Gilles Marini, Bristol Palin, Sabrina Bryan, Helio Castroneves, Emmitt Smith and Apolo Ohno.
Others from the cast performed a group dance to "Gangnam Style" - reprising a routine that has become a highlight of the "All-Stars" season. The cast also gave an encore of another standout performance of the season - a group dance set to "Call Me Maybe."
The Finalists' 'Dancing' History
Rycroft, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader who gained fame as a contestant on "The Bachelor," had been a last-minute cast addition on season 8 of "Dancing With the Stars." She replaced contestant Nancy O'Dell, who injured her knee just days before the season premiere. Rycroft and Dovolani placed third that season.
Johnson, who has four Olympic medals to her name, was the season 8 champion. She narrowly defeated Marini.
Monaco, who appears on ABC's daytime drama "General Hospital," won the very first season of "Dancing With the Stars," but her win wasn't without controversy.
When she was declared the winner - over actor John O'Hurley - fans were outraged. O'Hurley had been a favorite during the season and many viewers believed he deserved to win. The show staged a "rematch" between Monaco and O'Hurley to benefit charity. O'Hurley barely edged Monaco out to win that dance-off.
This was the fifteenth season of ABC's popular reality dance competition, but the first featuring contestants who had performed in regular seasons of "Dancing With the Stars."