NEW YORK - Melissa Rycroft was crowned champion of the celebrity television competition "Dancing With the Stars" on Tuesday, propelled by perfect scores from the judges and fan votes which spelled victory for the television host.
Rycroft, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader who was also a contestant on the reality dating show "The Bachelor," danced with partner Tony Dovolani and dazzled the show's judges on Monday with a samba and a freestyle dance, both of which earned perfect 10 scores from all three judges.
The 15th season of the hit ABC dance competition brought back 13 former top competitors for a special "all-star" edition and concluded with its first-ever all female finale.
Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who was third after Monday's show, was the season's runner-up, while "General Hospital" star Kelly Monaco placed third. Johnson and Rycroft both competed in the show's eighth season, but Johnson won while Rycroft came in third.
"Melissa thought she'd only get to week four," said host Tom Bergeron before presenting Rycroft and Dovolani with a special version of the show's mirror ball trophy at the conclusion of the live broadcast.
The dancers were ecstatic, and seemingly surprised, at their victory. Both were hoisted aloft by their fellow contestants as Bergeron proclaimed "What a feel-good win."
All three finalists performed one final dance on the live broadcast, which they were given less than an hour to rehearse.
Rycroft's samba scored a 28.5 from the judges. Their ratings for the couples' final three dances on Monday and Tuesday were combined with audience votes after Monday's show to determine the winner.
Other contestants from the season, including Bristol Palin, daughter of former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, "Cheers" star Kirstie Alley, NSYNC singer Joey Fatone, actress Pamela Anderson and singer Drew Lachey appeared and performed on the finale, along with other previously eliminated contestants.