Ten weeks of fierce competition, a diverse cast of headline-making celebrities and countless can't-believe-they-stayed-on costumes all boiled down to Tuesday night's (May 25) "Dancing With the Stars" season finale. And after two hours and a slew of great performances, the coveted mirror-ball trophy was bestowed, as many predicted, upon Nicole Scherzinger and her partner, Derek Hough.
The season-10 favorites beat out second-place finishers Olympian Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya and third-place duo Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The winners kicked off the evening's "favorite dance" round with the first of a trio of fiery Argentine tangos (all three dancing couples performed the Argentine tango for that round), which garnered rave reviews from the judges and sealed their place in the final two. But it was their final, high-energy jive to Ike & Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" that clinched the win.
Their performance prompted veteran ballroom judge Len Goodman to call the competition 20 minutes prior to the winner being announced — and before Lysacek and Trebunskaya had taken the floor. "There is only one winner of 'Dancing With the Stars' — it should be you," he boldly stated.
The always effusive Bruno Tonioli agreed: "This has been the best season of 'Dancing With the Stars' ever! You two have produced the most inventive, stunning dances I've ever seen! This [dance] was the crowning glory of an amazing season."
Carrie Ann Inaba said simply, "You set this place on fire."
As for Scherzinger and Hough, they were over the moon. "I'm just so flippin' happy right now!" the Pussycat Dolls frontwoman declared.
The show's other highlights, in addition to great performances by Lysacek and Andrews and a few teary goodbyes, included Buzz Aldrin's brief return to the dance floor in a sparkly jumpsuit and Niecy Nash and Pamela Anderson's "who's the sexiest?" showstopper. The cheesiest moment was easily when "The Bachelor" couple Jake Pavelka and Vienna danced to their season's theme song, "On the Wings of Love." And Kate Gosselin's number was exactly as host Tom Bergeron described it: an "over-the-top production."
Do you think Nicole and Derek deserved the mirror-ball trophy? Sound off in the comments!