Despite a late perfect-score challenge from Rob Kardashian in the last two nights of performances, J.R. Martinez has become the first Hispanic American to win the coveted mirror ball trophy on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
“Thank you America for believing in us,” the 28-year-old Iraq-war-vet-turned-actor said before turning to his partner Karina Smirnoff, adding: “You are amazing and I’m so grateful that I was able to be a part of your first mirror ball trophy!”
Throughout the 10-week competition, Martinez was one of the show’s frontrunners. The El Salvadoran-American actor continually wowed the judges and overcame an injured ankle in the final weeks to claim the title in the show’s 13th edition. His grit, determination and sheer dancing talent inspired viewers, and even led to a cover story in People magazine.
During the grand finale, Martinez, Kardashian and Ricki Lake had to reprise their favorite dances of the season. Those scores were then combined with Monday night’s totals and all the votes from the viewing audience. Despite earning the highest marks after that round, Lake was knocked out of the running and had to settle for third place.
Then, the final two dancers – Kardashian and Martinez –performed an instant samba to music selected for them during the show. They both earned perfect scores of 30 points, and Kardashian led Martinez by the slimmest of leads — with 113 points to 112 after four rounds of dancing in the two-night finale.
But after combining Monday night’s scores with the scores from Tuesday’s performances and the public voting, Martinez was the competitor with the highest combination of judges’ and viewers’ scores.