After 10 weeks of competition, NFL player Donald Driver was crowned the winner of season 14 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars”, beating out actor William Levy and Welsh classical singer Katherine Jenkins in a tightly contested final.
The three finalists danced one final routine to music they received just 24 hours ago.
Levy and pro partner Cheryl Burke earned a perfect 30 for their salsa, which judge Bruno Tonioli called “hot, saucy, sexy, spicy.” Head judge Len Goodman told the telenovela actor: “If salsa and rhythm were in the Olympics, you’d get a gold medal.” He had a night’s total of 89 points.
Jenkins and Mark Ballas also earned a perfect 30 for their bubbly jive, for a night’s total of 90 points. “You are such a brilliant artist,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told the Welsh classical singer.
Driver and Peta Murgatroyd’s cha-cha-cha also earned overwhelming approval – and a perfect score -- from the judges. “Another massive hit from Donald the magnificent,” Tonioli said of the routine. He had a night’s total of 89 points.
After the three dances, the final score was tabulated and Levy was announced as the third-place finisher. He told co-host Tom Bergeron that the show was “an amazing experience.”
Then Driver was announced as the winner. He jumped in excitement, rolled on the floor and hugged his dance partner, telling Bergeron winning felt "amazing."
In a subsequent interview with ABC’s Sandy Kenyon, Driver said winning the season “felt like winning the Super Bowl.”
Driver and Murgatroyd said they believed their country-themed freestyle put them over the top.
Viewer votes from Monday’s show accounted for half the finalists’ vote totals (viewers were not allowed to vote tonight.) The votes were added to judges’ scores from Monday and tonight, and the top vote-getter was declared the champion.
Jenkins had been top scorer after Monday night’s show, with a perfect total of 60 for her paso doble and freestyle. Driver and Levy followed her closely with a total of 59 points each for their two dances.
Over the course of the season, judges had consistently praised Jenkins for her superb technical ability. Levy always had the ballroom screaming in approval, and Driver’s strong determination led him to get better and better every week.
The night’s two-hour results show featured dancing from the entire season 14 cast. Gladys Knight - who was voted off during the mid-point of this season - and Kelly Clarkson sang live.
This season featured strong competitors. In fact, Goodman said the season premiere was the best of any premiere in the show’s history.
TV personality Maria Menounos was a strong dancer and fan favorite, and her elimination in the semi-finals surprised and dismayed many of her fans.
In addition to Menounos and Knight, this season’s other competitors were tennis great Martina Navratilova, actor Jack Wagner, talk show host Sherri Shepherd, singer Gavin DeGraw, actress Melissa Gilbert and Disney star Roshon Fegan.