Jennifer Grey Takes 'Dancing With the Stars' Title

"Dirty Dancing" star is tops with judges, beats Kyle Massey, Bristol Palin.

November 23, 2010, 3:50 AM

Nov. 23, 2010 — -- Nothing or nobody puts Baby in a corner -- not a ruptured disk in her back and not an army of mama grizzlies.

"Dirty Dancing" star Jennifer Grey proved that this evening on her way to becoming the season 11 champion of "Dancing With the Stars," coming out on top based upon an equal combination of judges' scores and viewers' votes.

Disney Channel staple Kyle Massey took second place.

Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whose waltz to the finals despite poor scores week after week stirred controversy, ended up in third.

"This has definitely been a life-changing experience and I've had the time of my life," Palin said after her defeat.

At the top of the show, Grey, who has topped the judge's scorecards with regularity this season, revealed she had to go to the hospital following two perfect scores from the judges in competition Monday night. Despite a severe back injury, she said she would keep trying to dance for the title.

"I think I left a little bit of my spine on the floor and I ruptured a disk," she said toward the top of the show. "This might be my last two chances to dance on this show with [professional dance partner] Derek Hough. I think I'd better do it."

She did dance two more times. After winning, she added, "I'm really glad I did."

After learning of her win, she embraced Hough, who lifted her off the floor and spun her around. Show host Tom Bergeron warned him to be careful of Grey's back injury.

The winners then hoisted the winners' mirror ball trophy over their heads as confetti rained down.

With her first dance of the evening, a Viennese waltz, Grey received yet another perfect score from the judges. Ranked against her two competitors, she received three 10s, meaning all the judges considered her dance the best.

Two judges ranked Massey second, earning him a total score of 26, and one ranked Palin second, earning her a 25.

In the second dance, an "instant" cha-cha to music only revealed to the dancers an hour beforehand, Grey and Massey earned combined 28s, while Palin earned a 27.

Combined with Monday night's two dances, that left Grey with a judges' tally of 118, Massey with 110 and Palin with 104.

Despite her last-place scores in all four of her finale dances, Palin wasn't out of the competition.

"Going out there and winning this would mean a lot," Palin said in a taped segment toward the start of tonight's two-hour season finale. "It would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me."

In past weeks, Palin's poor judges' scores were bolstered by the fan votes, which account for 50 percent of the stars' overall score -- and show producers disclosed before the show that "record" voting levels made it difficult for some votes to be logged.

Viewers have suggested in past weeks that people -- especially those "mama grizzlies" who support Sarah Palin -- have been voting in blocs and manipulating the system.

Only 14 percent of people in an ABC News/Washington Post poll out Monday evening thought Palin earned her place in the finals through dancing ability, while 54 percent credited a voting blitz by Sarah Palin supporters.

The show's producers revealed the massive finale voting push in a statement released in the hours before Tuesday's show -- but it did not say who was getting the lion's share of the fans' votes.

"Due to a record amount of activity, some viewers reported experiencing difficulties registering their votes for the 'Dancing with the Stars' finale, which affected each finalist equally," read the statement. "The issue was promptly addressed and voting lines remained open online until 11 a.m. ET on"

Both Palins, mother and daughter, have denied any organized vote-getting tactics.

Sarah Palin was in the audience cheering on her daugher during Monday night's performances. On Tuesday, she was in Phoenix signing her new book.

"She's had the journey of, you know the challenge and the improvement and the work ethic," Sarah Palin told ABC News' John Berman after her book event. "This has been all about work ethic and perseverance and, you know-- No, I couldn't be prouder. She's happy. She's very happy."

Behar: If Palin Wins, 'There Is Going to Be a Scandal'

Just as online audience voting closed this morning, Joy Behar predicted on ABC's "The View" that if Palin wins the competition, "there is going to be a scandal."

Judge Carrie Ann Inaba told the Wall Street Journal that Palin's continued presence in the competition was a "shocker."

"My theory is that she represents the every day girl, and the interesting part of the show is that you've got this girl next door who's obviously not a celebrity and not a performer out here running neck and neck with an R&B singer, a guy who's got his own TV show, and Jennifer Grey, and I feel that people are living vicariously through her. They're like, I get it, she's like me," she said. "But still, it's a shocker."

Despite Palin's huge vote support, some fans are upset. Very upset. Last week, a Wisconsin man shot his TV with a gun, saying he was fed up with Palin's subpar dancing skills and politics.

On Monday, however, Palin roared out for her first dance, a jive, earning straight 9s.

"You were, last time, a gorilla and now a thrilla," judge Len Goodman told her, referring to a past episode in which she and her partner danced in gorilla suits. "Vast improvement. Well done."

Later, Palin earned two 8s and a 9 for her freestyle performance to a song from the musical "Chicago" that she began while dancing in a cage.

"I have to give you credit for aiming so high," judge Bruno Tonioli told her, echoing the other judges. "You did very very well, but not quite at the level that this song required."

Grey, who consistently has been among the top scorers, earned two perfect 30s. For her second dance, she picked a song from "Dirty Dancing" -- "Do You Love Me."

On his first dance, Massey matched Palin with three 9s.

"That feels unbelievably, unbelievably amazing," Massey said.

He pulled four judges' points ahead of Palin with his second dance, earning two 10s and a 9.

Read on for a closer look at the three finalists vying for the mirror ball trophy Tuesday.

'Dancing With the Stars': Profiles of the Finalists

Jennifer Grey

Of the three, Grey's probably the only one immediately recognizable for her ability to dance. After all, she shot to fame playing Frances "Baby" Houseman in 1987's "Dirty Dancing" alongside Swayze. She also studied dancing at the Dalton School during her early years in New York City. But the breakneck pace of "DWTS" took a toll on Grey, 50, aggravating an old neck injury and prompting new knee problems. Still, with her pro partner Hough, she scored the season's first perfect score earlier this month. If Grey hadn't won it all, no one should have expected her to take it lightly. As Swayze famously said of her character in "Dirty Dancing," "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Kyle Massey

The youngest of the lot, Massey, 19, has a huge following among teens and tweens. He's best known for playing Cory Baxter in the Disney Channel sitcom "That's So Raven." Massey parlayed his role in that show into his own Disney series, "Cory in the House." He's also appeared in Disney Channel movies and recorded songs for Walt Disney Records. Making the jump from the Disney Channel to another Disney property, "DWTS," made sense, and Massey's made good on the show -- not only has he scored high marks from the judges and the viewers, he also dropped 18 pounds and shed 8 inches from his waist by shimmying and shaking.

Massey's enthusiasm has won him some high-profile fans outside of his usual demographic -- former "DWTS" contestants Lance Bass and Brandy Norwood said they wanted him to win. But if Massey had won the coveted mirror ball trophy, he said he was going to celebrate like a kid.

"I'm going to fill it up with Skittles, so everyone can come to my house and eat Skittles," he told "Entertainment Tonight" last week. "Taste the rainbow trophy!"

Bristol Palin

She doesn't dance. She doesn't sing. She doesn't act. But the one selling point 20-year-old Bristol Palin does possess is the ability to rile up her critics, whether as a spokeswoman for abstinence (remember that child she birthed in 2008?) or as a potential "DWTS" champion.

From the moment she cha-cha-ed onto the show to "Mama Told Me Not to Come," Bristol Palin has been this season's most talked about contestant. Beyond the voting controversy, her dance-floor style has been critiqued. Before her "Dancing" run, Bristol Palin told People magazine she would have "the most modest outfits for sure, because that's who I am." Indeed, her assortment of floor-length gowns has been a frequent topic of conversation among those who care about such things on the Internet.

ABC News Alex Stone in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events