By Lynette Rice
Updated May 25, 2011 at 05:07 AM EDT

Did talent triumph over personality? Or did the dancer with the best jokes end up swaying the voters? SPOILER ALERT! For more about the newest champion of Dancing with the Stars, go to the jump.

Hines Ward may have made it to the top two — he even aced out Chelsea Kane, who had a fantastic season — but he wasn’t feeling like he had the mirror ball in the bag. “I looked over and saw Kirstie and thought, ‘ah geez, everybody loves Kirstie.’ I didn’t know how I would match up with Kirstie!”

Fortunately for Ward, voters went for true talent over personality and gave the Pittsburgh Steelers star the prize. “It’s going right next to my MVP trophy,” Hines told reporters after Tuesday’s final. “I’m doing a tribute to Kym [Johnson, his professional partner] every time a score a touchdown. You will see a Dancing with the Stars routine somewhere in the end zone.”

Wards admits the journey was grueling — he lost 15 pounds by making it to the finals — so he admitted to having an equal amount of respect for Alley and Kane. “They’re all deserving of this mirror ball. But I’m not going to apologize for winning,” he said. “It’s grueling. I disrespected this show when I first came on by saying, ‘I can do that.’ It’s a lot of hard work.”

Now that the show’s over, Ward says he’ll look over the past episodes. He didn’t watch his performances during the show’s run “because every week we learned a new dance. I didn’t want to let Kym down because I wanted her to win her second mirror ball trophy. I hope I represented well and held up my end of the bargain.”

Johnson said she continues to feel good despite the injury. “Now I can rest and relax,” she admitted. “I wanted to push myself and I’m glad I did it. It’s worth it. I feel great.”