America has a new dance star, and his name is Drew Lachey. The former boy-band member and brother of Nick Lachey won the trophy in last night's finale of ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Lachey's brother and very pregnant wife watched from the live audience as Drew beat out football hero Jerry Rice and WWE babe Stacy Keibler.
In the finale, Lachey and his bubbly professional partner, San Francisco's Cheryl Burke, performed a tight jive dance showcasing Lachey's footwork. The dance culminated in Lachey jumping over Burke and sliding across the dance floor to a standing ovation from the in-studio audience. Although they received three nines, the total points earned from last night, coupled with Thursday's scores where they received perfect 10s, put them in the lead.
Ex-WWE wrestler Stacy Keibler and her professional partner, the Kosovo-born Tony Dovolani, were the judges' favorites from the beginning. Her natural ability was quickly evident, and every week she showed off her impressive dance skills. She didn't connect with the call-in voting audience, however, and she was the first to be eliminated last night; viewers related more to Rice's regular-guy personality than Keibler's long-legged ice queen persona.
Rice and his partner, Russian native Anna Trebunskaya, were constantly on the verge of being axed from the show due to his skill level, which couldn't match Keibler's or Lachey's. His winning personality and personal drive helped him become a crowd favorite, and although he got lower scores from the judges, the viewer call-in vote kept him afloat. Week after week, he kept striving and improving, and last night he was finally able to wow the judges with some of his own fancy footwork.
In the end, however, all had to bow to Lachey's dance floor dominance, which manifested itself in Thursday's electric, perfect-scoring freestyle dance set to Big and Rich's "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."
Ratings for Dancing With the Stars were sizzling this season, with more than 20 million tuning in each week to see the likes of George Hamilton, Tatum O'Neal, and Master P cut rugs, get judged, and get sent packing.