Donald Driver Wins 'Dancing With the Stars' Season 14
The popular athlete's big victory was revealed after a near-perfect evening on Monday, when he and partner Peta Murgatroyd scored 59 out of a possible 60 points. They followed with a sexy -- and shirtless! -- Cha-Cha on Tuesday that earned them an additional 30 points, for a combined total of 89 out of 90 points.
The 37-year-old hunk from Houston, Texas, had a slow and steady ride to the coveted Mirrorball Trophy. After a somewhat rocky week 1, in which he scored near the bottom of the leaderboard, with 21 out of 30 points, Donald built up his game week after week, all the way to Monday night's clincher, when he at long last earned his first set of straight-10's from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli.
Naturally, Donald was more than elated when he got the good news, and fell to the floor after the announcement was revealed.
"This is awesome," the elated Donald said, once he was able to pick himself back up.
In what was often dubbed the most competitive season in the history of Dancing With the Stars, Donald beat out a pack of finalists that included Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and model William Levy, who finished in second and third place, respectively.
"Well done, Donald. We love you!" Katherine proclaimed, following her second-place finish.
Donald joins a long list of athletes who have won Dancing With the Stars. Past winners include football legend Emmitt Smith, figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and gymnast Shawn Johnson.
Tonight's two-hour finale kicked off with a streamer-filled opening dance, which saw the return of the entire season 14 cast -- everyone from Gladys Knight, to Jaleel White and Gavin DeGraw -- for one final dance around the ballroom floor.
In fact, the majority of the first hour acted like a mini-reunion of sorts. After an encore performance of Donald's perfect freestyle from Monday -- and a lot of mindless filler -- booted contestant Sherri Shepherd acted out every woman's fantasy by dancing the Cha-Cha to 'It's Raining Men,' with partner Val Chmerkovskiy, Val's brother, Max, and a whole lot of bulging biceps. Not fair. Like, not fair at all.
Then it was Martina Navratilova, Jack Wagner and Gavin DeGraw's turn to return to the spotlight, in routines that included elegance, blow-up sharks and, in Wagner's case, lots and lots of shimmying. (Who's laughing now, Amanda Woodward?!)
Later in the hour, proving there can never be enough Gladys Knight in our lives, the legendary Motown singer made her first of two appearances of the night, in a classy routine with partner Tristan MacManus. Gladys sang Barbra Streisand's Oscar-winning classic 'The Way We Were' a bit later, in the second hour of the finale.
Following Gladys were, in order: Jaleel White, who performed the Paso Doble to the Shaft theme, in a routine that would have made his Family Matters alter-ego, Stefan Urquelle, very, very proud; Melissa Gilbert, who heated up the ballroom floor one last time, with a little help from the Chmerkovskiy brothers; and 20-year-old Roshon Fegan, who showed America what they missed out on with an epic Freestyle.
In a major shift of gears, singer Kelly Clarkson led the second hour with a medley performance of her new single, 'Dark Side,' and her chart-topping hit, 'Stronger.' Kelly also performed 'Dark Side' at the Billboard Music Awards, on Sunday, where she showed off her ridiculously awesome-looking new figure. (Haven't seen the photos yet? Click here.) Kelly will later appear on ABC's new reality-competition series, Duets, beginning this Thursday.
Getting back into the swing of things -- quite literally -- were Maria Menounos and partner Derek Hough, who followed Kelly's performance with a sexy tango that had us wishing there could be four spots in the finals.
Maria, of course, was the last contestant to be eliminated before this week's finale. Which meant that tonight's episode could finally (finally) get down to business, as the three remaining finalists competed one last time for the judges' all-important score. As we learned early on in the show, the contestants got to pick their own routine; however, their song choice wasn't given to them until 24 hours before the show.
With the pressure mounting, William Levy was the first to perform, dancing a breezy Salsa with partner Cheryl Burke that earned even more raves from the judges.
"Nobody does it better than William!" Bruno proclaimed, as he rose to his feet.
The routine earned 30 out of 30 points. Combined with their scores from Monday, William and Cheryl went into the results with 89 out 90 possible points.
Then it was Katherine Jenkins' turn to impress the judges -- a tall order, considering she earned two perfect scores on Monday. But impress them she did with a Jive that had lots of smiles -- not to mention lots of orange.
"You are the complete package," said judge Len.
And, as luck -- okay, and lots of talent -- would have it, the Jive earned Katherine and partner Mark Ballas one last perfect score, to give them 90 out of 90 points.
Donald Driver was the last to perform -- and as luck would have it, he took his shirt off within five seconds of his Cha-Cha. Naturally, the judges were floored by his routine, with Len going so far as to say, Donald was the best dancer the show has seen.
"I think you are the one to beat," added judge Carrie Ann. (And right she ultimately was!)
The judges' enthusiasm was quickly reflected in their scores; Len, Carrie Ann and Bruno each rewarded Donald with perfect 10s, for a combined score of 89 out of 90 points.
Unfortunately, with the results looming, the good news could only last so long. One commercial break, and a performance by Gladys Knight, later, it was time to send someone home. The first person to get the boot: 31-year-old former model William Levy, who ended his successful run on season 14 in third place.
"It was an amazing experience. I thank you guys for all that you've done." he said.
Then it was time to announce the winner of the Mirrorball Trophy -- which, as we're sure you've read by now, went to Donald over Katherine, in one of the closest Dancing With the Stars results, ever.
What do you think? Should Donald have won the Mirrorball Trophy? Or should it have gone to Katherine or William? Sound off now, below!