ABC/Adam Taylor(LOS ANGELES) — After a hotly contested finale in which only a few votes separated the final three contenders, actor Alfonso Ribeiro emerged the winner of season 19 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars Tuesday night at the conclusion of the two-part finale.
Ribeiro and his partner, Witney Carson, beat out Duck Dynasty star Sadie Robertson and her partner, Mark Ballas, and Pretty Little Liars actress Janel Parrish and her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, to claim the coveted Mirrorball Trophy.
Ribeiro appeared elated as he hugged Carson, and he was in tears as he talked with the show’s co-host, Tom Bergeron.
“I cannot believe this,” he said. “I’ve wanted it forever … I don’t even know what to say. These are happy tears.”
Carson was beaming.
“He’s one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met,” she said of her partner, telling him directly: “You deserve it.”
Robertson, who earned second place, thanked God for carrying her through to the finale of the competition and said Ribeiro deserved to win.
Parrish, who took third place, appeared emotional but smiled through tears at her partner.
“I honestly am just so lucky to be here standing next to him. You were my trophy the entire season so I’m happy,” Parrish told Chmerkovskiy.
After their two performances Monday on the first night of the finale, Ribeiro led the pack with a perfect score of 80, followed by Robertson with 78 points and Parrish with 77 points.
YouTube star Bethany Mota, who had made it to the final four competitors, was sent home during the first night of the finale.
With less than a day to prepare, the top three couples were assigned a fusion challenge in which they had to create a new dance routine that combined two contrasting dance styles. They performed the routines Tuesday night for points from judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli.
The three finalists all earned perfect scores of 40 each for their fusion dances – Ribeiro for his cha-cha/Argentine tango, Parrish for her foxtrot/paso doble and Robertson for her samba/quickstep.
The points were added to the judges’ scores from Monday night for a two-night total of 120 for Ribeiro, 118 for Robertson and 117 for Parrish. Those scores were combined with viewer votes from Monday night for a final grand total.
Ribeiro has been fan favorite this season, and delighted the ballroom audience and viewers when he performed “The Carlton,” the quirky dance performed by the character he played on the hit TV sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The 43-year-old danced his way to the finals despite having suffered groin and back injuries during rehearsals.
Judges had high praise for Robertson’s improvement throughout the competition. The 17-year-old reality TV personality became another fan favorite from the moment she took the stage in the season premiere to perform a cha-cha that impressed the judges. A high point for her came several weeks into the competition, when she performed a Ducky Dynasty-inspired samba that featured a cameo from the men in her famous family.
Parrish, 26, started the competition well and kept on improving, her scores placing her at or near the top of the leader board for much of the competition. Her jazz routine in week three resulted in the first perfect score of the season, but she recently injured her ribs during rehearsals and it showed in her performance Monday night.
The competition started 11 weeks ago with 13 stars — including actor Antonio Sabato Jr., comedian Tommy Chong, Olympian Lolo Jones and NASCAR legend Michael Waltrip – vying for their chance at the Mirrorball Trophy.
Tuesday night’s two-hour show included live musical performances from Jennifer Hudson and Gorgon City, Nick Jonas, and Meghan Trainor. Stars who had been booted from the dance floor during this season also returned to wow the ballroom audience with new routines.
Viewers also got to see an encore performance of Mota’s freestyle after Twitter fans picked it as the freestyle they most wanted to see again.
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