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And the 'DWTS' champion is...

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  November 23, 2010 09:57 PM

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Jennifer Grey! Second place went to Kyle Massey, and third place went to Bristol Palin.

And so "Dancing With the Stars" has maintained some sense of aesthetic integrity. Grey, 50, and her dance partner, Derek Hough, were clearly the best dancers, and a Palin win, driven by her mother's supporters, would have turned the show into a political popularity contest. Bristol Palin had made the point herself on Monday night: Winning "would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there who hate my mom and hate me," she'd said.

"I didn't think I was going to compete tonight," Grey told host Tom Bergeron upon winning, referring to a ruptured disc issue from earlier in the day, "and I'm really glad I did!" Hough is now a three-time champ, having won previous seasons with Brooke Burke and Nicole Scherzinger. Grey and Hough have consistently outshined the competition, not least of all in their final performances tonight, earning a combined 58 on their repeat waltz and on a cha-cha—which everyone had to perform, separately, to Pink's "Raise Your Glass."

Upon news of her third-place win, Palin called her experience on the show "life-changing," then said, "I had the time of my life," a most-likely unintentional echo of a song title from the movie that made Grey a star, "Dirty Dancing."

The 11th season of "DWTS" was filled with drama, with Grey's injuries and high emotionality, with the Palin factor, with the "booing" episode, and with Brandy's surprise elimination. But that's how this show tends to roll. All of the season's contestants returned to perform in the typically bloated finale, except for Michael Bolton (on tour) and Audrina Patridge (sick in bed).

On her Twitter page, Sarah Palin posted this message after the broadcast: "Congrats Jen,Kyle,Bristol, et al, for proving competition is GOOD! Remember: 'They're going to criticize anyway, so you might as well dance!'"

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