This post contains spoilers about the season 21 finale of Dancing With the Stars
Was there any doubt the Mirrorball Trophy would go to the angel from Down Under?
Bindi Irwin — who wowed both viewers and the judges with her humility and irresistible charm all season — was named the season 21 champion of Dancing With the Stars on Tuesday night.
She and the show’s winningest pro, Derek Hough, beat out second place finisher Nick Carter and third place underdog Alek Skarlatos — the American hero who turned out to be quite a hoofer this season (and will join the DWTS tour) — for the honor.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” Irwin exclaimed as she was being lifted above a crowd of well-wishers. “Thank you for changing my life!”
“Bindi deserved it. She deserved it,” added Carter. “She kicked butt.”
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Irwin, 17, seemed to be a lock from the start, and not just because she was paired with the show’s most popular pro. (Tuesday’s win marks Hough’s sixth since joining the show in 2007). Her personal story of triumph over tragedy (her dad, crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, died in 2006) was an inspiration to viewers and even served as a sentimental narrative to some of her performances. On Monday, Irwin and Hough danced to “Footprints in the Sand” in memory of her dad, whose picture was projected on the big screen behind her.
Irwin’s final dance on Tuesday with Hough — a combination of the cha cha and Argentine tango — earned a perfect 30.
“I can’t think of a more perfect way to end this season,” said Judge Carrie Ann Inaba. “It’s been because of you, Bindi Irwin.”
Tuesday’s finale featured multiple dancing (and singing!) performances from this season’s stars. The only one missing from the celebration was Tamar Braxton, who withdrew during week nine because of pneumonia. Kim Zolciak-Biermann had to withdraw because of illness in week three, but she still returned for Tuesday’s episode to dance with Tony Dovolani.
Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars will kick off March 21 on ABC.
Check out our interview with Derek about the season below!