In a grand finale that kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the very end, American Idol finalist and country star Kelly Pickler and her partner Derek Hough became this season’s champions. It was definitely a tight race though, stretching between the two final episodes. On Monday night, Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas became the first of the four final couples to be eliminated, in a surprise turn which many didn’t see coming. In typical style, however, Aly took the loss gracefully, congratulating the remaining contestants. Afterwards, all remaining contestants performed their “instant dances” in a segment, where they new the dance, but not the music that they would be performing to, beforehand. All three dances -- the salsa for Jacoby and Karina, and the jive for both Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy, and Kellie and Derek -- were given perfect scores by the judges and received ample praise. Afterwards, however, pro football player Jacoby Jones and his partner Karina were voted off, shaping up the finale between Kelly and Zendaya.

"Out of all my trainers, I never had a woman push me like she has. When I go back (to football), I'll have gracefulness, footwork and catch balls like this,” said Jacoby.

The finale became a reunion of sorts, as performances from and Victor Ortiz part of his backup dancers, and Jessica Sanchez interspersed dances by all the eliminated contestants this season. It was a tense battle as both Kelly and Zendaya danced near-perfect renditions. However, in the end, the Mirrorball Trophy went to Pickler, in what was certainly a deserved victory. It was definitely a good ending to an interesting season. Hopefully, DWTS can keep up the good work, when the show returns with just one episode per week next season.

Kellie Pickler
After a tense finale, Pickler became the winner of DWTS's 12th cycle.