“Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” ended Tuesday night with what many considered a huge upset, as former “Bachelor” babe Melissa Rycroft took the mirror ball trophy instead of Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.
But Melissa and her partner Tony Dovolani, who flew under radar in the beginning of the season, later overcame injuries to deliver polished performances right when it counted.
They also were comfortable with each other, having taken third place during Season 8 and been re-teamed for “All-Stars.” And their two perfect scores on Monday night’s show, which was more than Shawn and her partner Derek Hough could manage, helped give them the win.
After the finale, Melissa and Tony shared their joy with reporters backstage:
How does it feel to have the trophy?
Melissa: [Hoisting the mirror ball] It’s very heavy, but I don’t even care!
Where will you put it?
Melissa: In my front yard, on my mailbox, on the top of my car! Somewhere where everybody can see it all the time.
What did you think when Tom Bergeron declared you the winner?
Melissa: My mind went blank for a minute. I’ll be honest, when we were standing there, and it was us and Shawn and Derek I had assumed it was Shawn and Derek taking it. When it was our name called, I just went, oh, my gosh, how did this just happen. The support behind us the entire season felt good. I felt the cast was genuinely happy for us. It feels good to have fought hard all season and proven ourselves and [sighing] it’s the trophy!
Watch the Shocked Reactions to the “All-Stars” Winner Reveal:
Talk about your journey from Season 8 until now.
Melissa: I can’t even sum up what’s happened to my life in the past four years. It’s unbelievable. Everything has been unexpected and I just kind of learned to go with the flow, take everything with a grain of salt and move forward and I’ve been lucky. I’ve been blessed with a lot of really good things in my life and take advantage of it and always do it with a smile. Things are good right now. I have no complaints and I feel really blessed.
Is this the happiest you’ve ever been?
Melissa: I’ve gotten married; I’ve had a baby. This is third in my life!
Tony, this is your first “DWTS” trophy—
Tony: [Beaming] This is my first one! Incredible.
You’ve had some doozy partners over the years [laughter]
Tony: You know what, I’ve paid my dues but it was worth the entire 14 seasons [Tony started on "DWTS" on Season 2, missing only Season 1] to get somebody like Melissa. It was worth this unbelievable moment, this incredible ride—all the stars have to align sometimes and tonight, they all did. It’s my wife’s and my anniversary tonight, 13th anniversary and 100th year of independence for Albanians so this is an incredible moment. Melissa didn’t just affect me. She affected an entire nation. This moment I share with all our fans and all of you, the press. You guys have been behind us at all.
What were your expectations when you started the season?
Tony: Expectations?! We thought we were going home week one!
Melissa: To have fun and try to hold our own, maybe leave with some sort of impression, never thought we’d be champions, the last ones standing. I wish we hadn’t underestimated ourselves but at the same time, it kind of makes you more proud of what you’ve accomplished and once this dies down, I’m going to look back and reflect on what we’ve just done because I think it’s pretty incredible. I’m proud. Next is holiday time back in Dallas with the family. I’m doing mommy duty for awhile.
Melissa, you injured your neck this season. How is it?
Melissa: I don’t even care about my neck right now! [Holding trophy high over her head]