Dancing With the Stars kicked off Tuesday’s finale with a red carpet scene leading all the stars of Season 17 back into the ballroom.
Valerie Harper, Bill Nye (the Science Guy), Snooki and the rest of the gang were there, reminiscing about the season and commenting on all the fun, pain and glory they had along the way.
But it was down to the final three — Amber Riley, Corbin Bleu and Jack Osbourne — vying for the trophy.
“It might not be about the highest scores,” said pro Derek Hough. “It might not be about the dances at all. It’s really going to come down to who America feels should be the winner.”
Here’s how the finale played out:
Before we got to any competitive performances or champ-crowning, Amber and Derek danced an encore of their country-Western freestyle dance from Monday night.
Enrique Iglesias performed his song Heart Attack, and Ylvis performed crazy hit The Fox while stars and troupe members danced, wearing fox suits, red tails and red ears.
One of the biggest highlights of the show: Bill Nye hit the floor for a cha cha with pro Tyne Stecklein and wowed with what looked like several backflips and handsprings across the floor as part of his number. But as host Tom Bergeron noted, “Holy mackerel! I swear sometimes it was like he was a completely different person!” (USA TODAY’s Bill Keveney, who was in the ballroom, reports that the entire dance was recorded and that a stunt double did the tricks for Nye.)
Another highlight: Valerie Harper hitting the dance floor once again. She said she was “so happy” to be back in the ballroom and said she “wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” In a taped segment, she said, “This final dance will be a big thank you to everyone…” She and partner Tristan MacManus danced gingerly as Colbie Caillat sang What A Wonderful World.
Snooki to co-host Brooke Burke Charvet: “I missed your boobs!”
Lady Antebellum performed their new song, Compass.
Finally, Corbin and pro partner Karina Smirnoff performed their fusion dance, melding a foxtrot with a cha cha. Judge Len Goodman loved it but said, “You messed it up in one little part.” Corbin nodded with a smile. Bruno Tonioli said Corbin’s “flair for Latin is fantastic.” Said Carrie Ann Inaba, “I can’t believe we’re still making you guys dance!” She praised Corbin but also noted that he “lost it twice.” Corbin said he got “lost in the moment.” Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27
Jack and partner Cheryl Burke performed a fiery fusion of paso and salsa. Mom Sharon Osbourne, sister Kelly Osbourne and Jack’s wife, Lisa, cheered him on. Bruno said it was “wonderful.” Carrie Ann said he was a little “flat-footed” on the salsa. Len said that “week after week” Jack has gotten better. “Well done.” Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27
Amber and Derek did a samba fused with quickstep to Your Love Keeps Lifting Me (Higher and Higher). Carrie Ann said it was “seamless and effortless.” Len said, “You, my little sausage, are a fantastic dancer.” And we didn’t hear what Bruno said because we were too surprised Len called Amber his “little sausage.” Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30
After emotional taped thanks from each star to their respective pro partners, it was results time.
Third place: Jack Osbourne
“I’ve learned that I’m definitely not a better dancer than my sister. We are now tied,” he said, adding, “I’ve learned that if you just dive in and you have a great teacher, it is possible to become a ballroom dancer.”
Second place: Corbin Bleu
“I thank God for this experience. I thank my family and my best partner in the world. … I had a blast.”
New winner: Amber Riley and her pro partner Derek Hough!
“I want to let women of all sizes out there know — you can do whatever you put your mind to! It doesn’t matter what size you are, what color you are. You can do whatever, whatever, whatever you put your mind to!”