“Dancing with the Stars” has wrapped up what could go down as one of the most surprise-filled seasons in its 24-season history.
As it came down to the final three, each star-studded duo had their hearts racing in anticipation of the announcement that would crown the winner.
NFL star Rashad Jennings, with partner Emma Slater, swiftly beat out the other two duos in style. The second place slot consisted of World Series champ David Ross alongside partner Lindsey Arnold, while third place held Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei and partner Val Chmerkovskiy.
Kordei took the high road, saying she was “incredibly grateful” for her opportunities on the show. She and Chmerkovskiy got a standing ovation in the ballroom and on Twitter.
Sophomore Melissa Tan said, “Normani looked like the real winner out there, and it is unclear to me as to why she didn’t get first place.”
Crowned champ Jennings later tweeted that he never would have imagined he would appear on the show, let alone win.
Ross stated that he “couldn’t be happier” for Jennings and Slater, along with tweeting later that night, saying, “A huge congrats to the mirror ball CHAMPS @RashadJennings and @EmmaSlaterDance. You guys deserve it and I couldn’t be happier for you!”
At Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, not long after the Cubs’ victory, players gathered around clubhouse TVs waiting for the DWTS winner to be announced.
Former teammate and friend Jon Lester said, “I’m surprised the old man has made it this far!”
Like all of Ross’ former teammates, Lester was rooting for him. Slugger Kyle Schwarber even took a break from a postgame interview to see who would be crowned the winning duo.
After Ross survived the third-place announcement, the Cubs were sure he would be named the winner. Unlike the final game of his MLB career – Game 7 of the World Series in November – Ross finished in second place.
Ross was seen as a long shot for a finalist, but he was a favorite with the fans, and he slowly won over the judges with his hard work and positive attitude.
Sophomore Manny Merino said, “I really wish Ross [had] won, because he has a very loyal fanbase in Chicago and around the world that could have backed him up.”
Ross’s runner-up status over Kordei was controversial for lots of her fans on social media. Although many people acknowledged that if Kordei could not win the prize, Jennings deserved it.
Kordei had a dominant season overall, earning multiple perfect scores throughout, and surprising her Fifth Harmony fans — as well as America — every time she stood on the stage.
Unfortunately, the star also suffered a painful twisted ankle down the stretch and had points docked in the week before the finale for a “stumble” during her Viennese waltz with Chmerkovskiy.
Jennings’s victory is a good reminder that at the end of the day, professional athletes still regularly crush the “Dancing With the Stars” competition. Not only do they have natural agility, which makes them fun to watch, they have a competitor’s mentality that takes them far.
Jennings is now the fourth professional football player to win the Mirror Ball Trophy, along with Donald Driver (Season 14), Hines Ward (Season 12), and Emmitt Smith (Season 3). Other NFL stars who have placed in the final three over the years include Jason Taylor, Calvin Johnson, Jacoby Jones, Warren Sapp and Jerry Rice.
Who do you want to see in next season’s “Dancing With the Stars”?