DERRIK J. LANG
LOS ANGELES – Brooke Burke waltzed away with the mirror ball trophy on the "Dancing with the Stars" finale.
The 37-year-old TV personality and mother of four dominated the seventh season of the popular ABC dancing competition and bested former NFL player Warren Sapp and former 'NSync member Lance Bass during the Tuesday night finale, in which she reprised an emotional Viennese waltz routine that earned her a perfect score from the show's panel of judges.
"Unbelievable," was all Burke could muster after winning amid a flurry a confetti.
From the outset, the slinky former host of E!'s "Wild On" and CBS' "Rock Star" commanded the ballroom this season, coming in first place eight out of 10 times and receiving a 10 — the judges' top score — 16 times. Burke was crowned the latest "Dancing with the Stars" champion after the judges' scores — 88 out of 90 — were combined with viewers' votes.
"I actually can't believe it," said Derek Hough, Burke's professional partner, who's never won the competition. "I really can't. I honestly can't. The journey's been so long. It's been tough. It's been wonderful. It's been everything I could ever hope for. Wow. I can't believe we actually did it, girl."
Burke maintained an eight point lead over Sapp, the charismatic 35-year-old fan favorite whose technique was consistently criticized by the judges. Sapp still managed to hustle his way into second place with professional partner Kym Johnson, despite receiving one point less from the judges than the third place finisher, 29-year-old singer Bass.
"From the moment you start, you make me smile," head judge Len Goodman told Sapp.
Bass and his professional partner, Lacey Schwimmer, were upbeat about their loss. The pair danced away after their dismissal. And he's not hanging up his dancing shoes just yet. The former boybander will join professional dancers and other former contestants for the 38-city "Dancing with the Stars" tour, which is set to kick off Dec. 17 in San Diego.
"You never took the safe road once," judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Bass during the finale.
Previously dismissed celebrities — actor Cody Linley; sprinter Maurice Greene; actresses Susan Lucci and Cloris Leachman; chef Rocco DiSpirito; reality TV star Kim Kardashian; actor Ted McGinley; and comedian Jeffrey Ross — also returned for a last dance. Injured volleyball player Misty May-Treanor and singer Toni Braxton remained off their feet.
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