Even the morning after, our "Dancing with the Stars" correspondent Lenni G is still pretty psyched about North Carolina native Kellie Pickler winning last night's trophy. Lenni came down off of Cloud Nine this morning just long enough to send us a recap of the show. Thanks for all the great recaps all season, Lenni!
Lenni G: After nearly two hours of entertainment from the top ten stars, the pros, Pitbull, Wynonna, Psy, and a cast of thousands, we were more than ready for the announcement of the winner of Season 16 of "Dancing with the Stars."
Have to say I was feeling a little more confident about our home girl, Kellie Pickler, when she and her partner, Derek Hough, were chosen by the viewers for the encore dance. And it wasn't just any encore dance. It was, in my opinion, the best dance of any season of the show. Of course, I'm talking about the phenomenal, brilliant, utterly perfect contemporary routine from Monday night's supersized freestyle round.
Moving on to the eliminations... In what I would consider a mild upset, Aly and Mark were the first to go. I loved watching this girl "blossom" during the season and totally agree with Mark that she was "the best student" he has ever had.
With Aly's departure, the last three couples -- Jacoby and Karina, Kellie and Derek, and Zendaya and Val -- each did an "Instant Dance."
So, just what is an "Instant Dance?" Well, the couples know what the style will be ahead of time but get the music only about 30 minutes before they must perform. As is generally the case on finale night, the judges scores for the salsa from Jacoby and Karina, the jive from Kellie and Derek, and the jive from Zendaya and Val, were all perfect 30's.
First to go of the three couples remaining were Jacoby and Karina. Totally agree with the judges that Jacoby was "a breath of fresh air" in the competition and that he definitely deserved to be in the finals. Also have to give huge props to Karina for always getting the best out of him, no matter the style.
Host Tom Bergeron then announced the winning couple: KELLIE AND DEREK!!!! Yes, North Carolina, our girl took home the vaunted Mirror Ball Trophy! Actually, Derek had to tell her they won when she seemed not to hear Bergeron make the announcement. Yep, that's our girl. Derek's comment that her dancing reminded him of his dancing sister, the fabulous Julianne Hough, said it all. She really is that good and has been all season.
Second place finishers, Zendaya and Val, were also tremendous contenders all season. As Bruno said, Zendaya is a "pitch perfect" performer and will go very, very far in her career. Keep up the good work, little girl. We need lots more 16-year-old role models like you!
Well, time to "call it a season." I am so over the moon about Kellie and Derek's win. Many, many thanks to both of you for the great ride.
(Also, be sure to check out our awesome photo gallery of some of Kellie Pickler's best moments on "Dancing with the Stars.")