DWTS Finale 5th Judge: Season 30 Winner Makes History — And It Was Still a Surprise

Amanda Kloots, Cody Rigsby, Iman Shumpert and JoJo Siwa battle it out over two rounds of competition — but only one can take home the Mirrorball Trophy!

After ten weeks of competition, it was time to crown a new winner of “Dancing with the Stars,” and if you think you know who won — well, crazier things have happened on this show!

No stranger to shocking results and winners, fans came through with a record number of votes, per Tyra Banks at the end of the show, in deciding who they wanted to take home the Mirrorball trophy.

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Four finalists came into this finale, and they each had two chances to take home that hardware. First was a fusion dance, combining two styles, but it was in the second round that they really got to show who they were.

The freestyle always brings some of the most memorable moments of each season, and this time was no different. This season featured two LGBTQ+ finalists, and two major firsts with JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson the first same-sex couple ever and Iman Shumpert the first NBA player to make the finals.

Amanda Kloots has gone on an incredible journey of healing through this season, while Cody Rigsby and Cheryl Burke have had to overcome serious challenges during the season when they both came down with Covid in Week 2!

Due to Derek Hough’s breakthrough case of Covid last week, he was forced to miss out on the season finale — talk about a bummer! — but he was lucky that former two-time “DWTS” champ, and his sister, Julianne Hough was willing to take his call and step in for him.

Maybe it’s the holiday season, but it was actually a little bit emotional seeing this season’s favorites dancing alongside the pros for the opening number. We loved how seamlessly they matched the pros in outfit, and actually they all were pretty solid in their dancing, too.

And can we say we’re still not over Suni Lee’s backflip run down the dance floor — in heels! And then she followed it up with a pretty impressive lift  and can someone tell us again why she’s not competing for the Mirrorball this season?

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

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Melanie C

While the meaning may be slightly different, there is something to the idea of two becoming one on the dance floor that suits this competition, and the journey these celebs take with their professional partners. So much success is about that partnership, and yet Melanie C was here without her Spice Girls partners, bringing a whole different lounge mood to this classic track. It was a very cool vocal, well-suited and subtle enough that it worked perfectly as the background to a retrospective of this past season.


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What was with the guys being out of sync with their very first moves of the night, particularly that first group of three. Artem Chigvintsev was listening to different music, apparently! Overall, though, it was a great showcase of all that they can do, moving from style to style and from less clothing to even less clothing. Forget leather and lace, this was leather and skin, a real rock-and-roll/ballroom fusion.

Jimmie Allen

We’ve seen him singing along with every track all season long, so it was nice to finally get to see him just sing it out loud. Clearly, he’s been wanting to do this since Week 1. He was definitely in his element here, and while we weren’t quite sure the dancer’s ensembles matched his country music style — glittery though he was — it was fun seeing them incorporate some two-step and line dancing technique into their work. The whole piece was a lot of fun, and Jimmie sounded great. It’s always nice to see these stars bring their thing to this stage, if they can.

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Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten

(Viennese Waltz/Paso Doble) Everything about this, from the music to the way the two dances were combined, was just so utterly compelling. We couldn’t take our eyes off a single second — even when the flashing and strobing lights were making them hurt. Amanda has come such a long way, and she brought so much personality and character to the dance The strength and hard-hitting elements of paso in the waltz were fascinating, and very cool the way it was executed. There were two minor timing issues that we saw in the paso portion, including one right toward the end, but this was still a very strong start.

Judges Scores: 9, 10, 9, 10

My Score: 9

Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke

(Paso Doble/Cha-Cha-Cha) A bit clunky at the top, Cody did not find his proper form through the paso portion, with over-extensions, posture issues and even a failure to hit his marks sharply and with precision. At one point, he looked like he was stalking the floor with bent knobby knees than like a bullfighter with strength and passion. He got a lot more comfortable in the second half, but we actually felt he was stronger last week. If he’s going to leapfrog better dancers to be here — and he did! — we were hoping he’d prove why, but that didn’t happen.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 7

JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson

(Tango/Cha-Cha-Cha) Well, the tango was ferocious and fantastic, but the cha cha was a little off at times. We’re talking very minor issues, but they persisted through that second portion of the dance, primarily in JoJo’s footwork. She just wasn’t hitting as strongly or consistently as she should have. The whole piece looked as if she was perhaps burning a little too much energy/adrenaline and having trouble channeling it into the dance properly. Most of the dance was very strong, with some great partnering between the two (at times so in sync they could have both been pros), but we can’t call it perfect.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 9

Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach

(Cha-Cha-Cha/Foxtrot) What a sweet partnership. We’d have liked to see Iman pump up the hip swivels a bit more in line with what Daniella was giving (he was at about an 8 out of 10), but we will give credit that this just got stronger and stronger as it went along. He’s using the fullness of his size and length now more consistently, which creates a much more dynamic image on the screen and actually makes their drastic height difference less noticeable. He is definitely the most improved of the season, and remains a lot of fun to watch.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 8

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Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke

Cody had a real sense of enthusiasm in his performance, or at least through the middle portion, that was fun to watch. He seemed a little distracted by his props up the stairs, never quite coming together in the opening or on the pole. The final lift with Cheryl was flubbed a little, too, but we loved his attack through the rest of the piece, which showed off a lot of personality and gave a sense of who he is in ways the structured dances just couldn’t.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 9

Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten

Has anyone in the history of “Dancing with the Stars” needed this journey more than Amanda? She came in still deeply mourning the loss of her husband, admitting she was guarded in her relationships. And then to bring such joy in this final dance, it was overwhelming to witness. Yes, she’s still on her journey through loss, but through the show she has given herself permission to live fully again. There was so much vibrancy and life in her movements, and the smile plastered across her face. What an incredible thing to be a part of, and a beautiful moment for her to experience.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10

JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson

We were actually expecting more lifts, but instead we got incredible confidence and lots of great tandem movement from JoJo and Jenna. Their partnership is rock solid at this point, with so much trust, it was great to see JoJo leading the charge on this one. This was her story to tell, and this journey helped her find the identity that she will carry into adulthood even beyond her sexuality and established bubblegum persona. It’s been remarkable seeing that growth in her throughout the season. And while this didn’t offer any of that elegance and maturity we’ve seen, it was quintessential JoJo, but definitely filtered through a more adult lens with greater overall understanding.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10

Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach

Iman has been the coolest dude on the dancefloor all season, and this piece finally allowed them to lean fully into that. It was chill and swagger and his unique vibe from start to finish. This is such a cool partnership, totally unexpected in every way and yet here they are. Iman earned his spot here through hard work and improvement — a hallmark of “DWTS.” His journey has been remarkable and with this, he proved he can own a dance floor as a leading man. It’s been an incredible ride with a great attitude and so much personality every step of the way. Julianne Hough called it her favorite freestyle in 30 seasons of this show.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10

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Once again, the second round did nothing to change things as the four couples ranked the exact same way — especially as everyone got a perfect 40 from the judges for their freestyle dances.

That said, the top two from the judges are the two we feel should be vying for the Mirrorball Trophy. Despite coming in with a lot of dance experience, JoJo Siwa has still managed to grow on this show. She’s gained in ballroom and Latin styles and she’s grown as a person, which has informed the texture of her dance.

But then there’s Iman Shumpert, who has grown as a dancer in the most incredible way. He’s the first NBA player to make it to the finale, and it’s easy to see why. He wanted it bad enough, he fought for it and he had an incredibly creative visionary in partner Daniella Karagach.

As for the other two, while we’d love to see Cheryl Burke win again after so many years, and the journey she’s been on, it would be more a vote of support for her than Cody Rigsby, who’s been outmatched all season and — if we’re totally honest — shouldn’t have been here at all.

Alan Bersten is the only other pro here who’s won the season, and he and Amanda Kloots have been on a special journey of their own. But while she had an incredible growth throughout the season, and she is elegant and graceful in her dance, we think she wound up overshadowed in the end.

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We agree with Tyra, though, in that this has to be one of the tightest races in the history of the show. Most of these finalists are more than deserving of being here and have had incredible runs this season. But only one can win it all.

JoJo did make a push during the “American Music Awards” for people to vote for her, and all of those people who have decided to hate her because she’s gay have been arguing the fix is in for weeks because she’s the “woke” choice. But if she wins, it’s because she was legitimately great.

We’d actually rather see Iman take this one, but had a sneaking suspicion it would be JoJo, with Iman settling for second, followed by Amanda and then Cody. Then again, that’s how the judges ranked them. Would America agree with them that much?

4th Place: We clearly have no idea how much love and support is out there from the Peloton community — or LGBTQ fans are coming out for Cody — because Amanda Kloots and Alan Bersten had to settle for a respectable fourth place finish. If Cody wins the whole season, we’re going to be stunned!

3rd Place: At least there is a limit to how much support he has, as Cody Rigsby and Cheryl Burke wound up landing in third place. Considering how weak of a dancer he’s been compared to so many people he outlasted, they should both be thrilled with this outcome.

2nd Place: In perhaps the biggest shocker of the season so far — and proving all those saying the “fix” was in wrong, though they’ll find some way to twist it that they weren’t and it’s still a “fix” — JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson slid into second place for the season. They had an incredible journey, broke new ground for the show and inspired a generation. Not bad for an 18 year old.

1st Place: For the sheer challenge they were facing coming in and how brilliantly Daniella Karagach navigated it with clever choreography and Iman Shumpert delivered week after week with hard work and genuine growth, he’s absolutely earned this season’s Mirrorball trophy. Fans have always loved a journey, and he had the most growth all season long, showed great heart, and we’re still not over some of those lifts!

“Dancing with the Stars” will return next year for Season 31.

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