And the season-11 champion of Dancing with the Stars is…
The actress, 50, grabbed the ABC competition's mirrorball trophy on Tuesday's results show, beating out fellow finalists Kyle Massey and Bristol Palin. Disney star Massey, 19, came in second place, while controversial young mom and political daughter Palin, 20, ranked third.
Grey and pro partner Derek Hough entered the finale as clear frontrunners, scoring raves from judges and a perfect 60 for their two dances on Monday (including an emotional cha-cha tribute to her iconic Dirty Dancing role and late costar Patrick Swayze.)
The star burst into tears immediately after winning. The mother (to Stella, 8, with actor husband Clark Gregg) almost didn't dance on Tuesday after rupturing a disk the night before and visiting the hospital.
"I'm glad I did [dance]!" a tearful Grey (who endured multiple surgeries for thyroid cancer and an old neck injury before DWTS) admitted to host Tom Bergeron.
(To determine the winner, call-in and online votes were combined with judges' scores for their two Tuesday-night dances.)
Still, it was one of the most hotly contested wins in DWTS history. On Tuesday, ABC said that "a record amount of activity" temporarily overloaded its online and telephone voting systems following Monday's show, according to the Associated Press.
Young mom Palin, 20, was the lightning-rod contestant of the season. The ex-fiance of Levi Johnston and daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin avoided the axe despite consistently low scores. Some detractors suggested a right-wing-voting bloc was behind her DWTS dominance. When Palin advanced to the finals last Tuesday (while early favorite Brandy was eliminated), one Wisconsin man shot his television in disgust. Then, over the weekend, an envelope containing a mysterious white powder, allegedly addressed to Palin, arrived at DWTS studios. (The powder was later identified as harmless talcum powder)
"I just let whatever they say roll off my back," Palin told UsMagazine.com Tuesday of the "haters."
For champion Grey — out of the Hollywood spotlight for years — DWTS allowed her to face her fears following numerous medical scares.
"I'm ticking things off my list," she told Us in September. "I had a tumor removed; I had spinal surgery; I had four surgeries in three months…Now, here I am, dancing the jive! I am so happy!"
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