“It’s not what I expected,” Inaba, 51, admitted to Us Weekly exclusively after the season 28 finale. “But this whole season has been filled with ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns. I think, always, the right person wins on Dancing With the Stars because it’s a collaborative vote between the judges’ scores and the audience. And what the audience says is very important and we honor it.”
The Talk moderator pointed out that “a lot of people were shocked tonight in the ballroom,” something that she had never witnessed before on the ABC competition.
“I’ve never felt that from the ballroom when a winner was announced like tonight,” she said. “I think Hannah has had a really challenging journey, but I think in the end she rose, and I’m really proud of her.”
Although Inaba was shocked by the final results, she did not necessarily count out the possibility of Brown, 25, and the Bachelorette alum’s pro partner, Alan Bersten, taking home the grand prize.
“To be honest, I don’t know if I had a specific idea [of] who I thought was going to win,” she told Us. “I just knew that all four — and even all five, actually, even James [Van Der Beek] — could have been up here and it would’ve been great to see anybody win. It was just, for some reason, I don’t know why that was shocking.”
Looking forward, the In Living Color alum told Us that she is “excited to see where [Hannah is] going to go from here.” She added, “This is a bittersweet moment for the season to end ‘cause it was such a great season. I’ll miss season 28.”
Inaba and Brown were at odds at one point during the season. The reality star felt that the judge had been harder on her than the other contestants, which Inaba ultimately clarified was never her intention. Brown apologized on the November 18 episode for being “dismissive” toward the choreographer, and they hugged it out.
Kel Mitchell and Witney Carson ended up being the runners-up, while Ally Brooke and Sasha Farber finished in third place and Lauren Alaina and Gleb Savchenko landed in fourth. The season’s celebrity cast also included Sean Spicer, Karamo Brown, Sailor Brinkley-Cook and Lamar Odom, among others.
With reporting by Kayley Stumpe
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