It was a fairytale ending to the 'Dancing with the Stars: All Stars" season, as Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani -- the only couple in the finals who hadn't previously won a mirror ball trophy -- were crowned the season 15 champions.
The couple beat out former champs Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough, as well as the very first "DWTS" winner, Kelly Monaco, and her new partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, for the all-stars title.
But what made the win most exciting was Dovolani's reaction. This win was a long time coming for the Albanian pro dancer, and he didn't hide his excitement. You'd have thought he'd won the half-billion dollar Powerball jackpot. Of course, for a "DWTS" pro dancer, this is the jackpot.
The perky couple's season wasn't all fun and foxtrots, though. Two serious injuries threatened the duo (Rycroft suffered a neck injury and Dovolani hurt his back), and their final dance -- an "instant" samba to the song "Life is a Highway"-- ended their long streak of perfect-scoring routines.
But after 14 seasons without a mirror ball trophy, Tony Dovolani's hard work finally paid off. He found his perfect match in Rycroft, whom he was also paired with in season 8. In that season, they made it to the finals, only to come in third place. The winner of that season: Shawn Johnson.
On his quest for the blinged-out mirror ball trophy, the pro dancer encountered a series of disappointments. In season 3 he was paired country singer with Sara Evans, who dropped out of the competition midway through, due to her pending divorce.
For season 8, his original partner, Nancy O'Dell, withdrew at the last minute due to an injury; Rycroft came in as a last minute replacement, with only two days to practice. In season 9, Dovolani landed in 14th place with partner Kathy Ireland, a harsh blow after making it to the finals the previous season.
Dovolani's 10th season partner was reality star Kate Gosselin. The couple's tumultuous rehearsals were caught on tape, and in an interview on Anderson Cooper's talk show, the "DWTS" pro later said he needed "a lot of therapy' after working with Gosselin.
And Dovolani had ultra-early eliminations with partners Martina Navratilova and Wendy Williams, when he was ousted in week 1 and 2, respectively.
For the all-stars season, Tony and Melissa's scores were high, and viewer support was as well. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough entertained, but broke a lot of rules, and the judges (and possibly the audience) dinged them for it.
One more reason this long-awaited "Dancing with the Stars" win was so sweet for Tony Dovolani: It came on the same day as his wedding anniversary. He told "Access Hollywood" after the show, "Today is my wife and my thirteenth anniversary. It's the 100th year for Albanian independence, so for me, this means so much to win here, because America saved my life. This ride has been so special ...This cannot be matched."
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