"This has been the most amazing experience ever. I've grown so much. Thank you so much," Johnson said after Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron revealed she was the eighth-season celebrity champion based on the combination of the judges' score shares for the dancers' Monday and Tuesday night performances and the share of home viewer votes cast immediately after Monday night's broadcast.
Sex and the City actor Gilles Marini and his partner Cheryl Burke finished just behind Johnson and Ballas in second place.
"This is, in eight seasons, our closest ever finale," Bergeron said. "When we combined the judges' scores with your votes there was less than 1% difference -- less than 1% in share -- between the couples that came in first and second."
"I'm so happy for Shawn and Mark, you know they worked so hard. We love them so much," Marini said after Johnson's victory was announced. "I want to thank all the fans, I want to thank all the people who helped me. I want to thank my wife, I love you so much. Cheryl, you're one of the best things that has happened in my life, I love you."
"Never in a million years did I imagine I'd be here dancing with an Olympian and someone who has been in a blockbuster movie," Rycroft said. "My life, the past eleven weeks, has completely changed, and I thank all the viewers and voters for keeping us here this long because I don't think Tony and I have had a better time."
Johnson -- who at 17 years old, also became Dancing with the Stars youngest champion -- is the third Olympic athlete to win the ABC ballroom dancing competition. In addition to Yamaguchi's sixth-season win, two-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, Dancing with the Stars' previous youngest champion, also won the show's fourth season on his 25th birthday in May 2007.
Johnson and Ballas and Marini and Burke had finished tied for first place on the overall judges' leaderboard with 58 out of 60 points for the two dances they had each performed on Monday night's performance show.
Johnson and Ballas had received 28 out of 30 points for their cha cha and a perfect 30 out of 30 points for their freestyle performance while Marini and Burke had received a perfect 30 out of 30 points for their paso doble performance and 28 out of 30 points for their freestyle routine.
Rycroft and Dovolani had finished in third place on Monday night's judges' leaderboard with 56 out of 30 points after receiving 29 out of 30 points for their paso doble and 27 out of 30 points for their freestyle performance.
All three couples also performed their favorite eighth-season routine during last night's live finale -- with their scores contributing to their final combined judges score total but not being voted on by home viewers who had already voted based on Monday night's performances.
However all three couples received perfect 30 scores from the judges for last night's performances, giving them a negligible affect on the competition's ultimate outcome.
In addition to Johnson's victory, Dancing with the Stars' eighth-season finale also revealed that Anna Demidova had won the season's professional dancer competition which featured six dancers competing for a spot as a new professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars' ninth season which will air this fall.
(Photo credit ABC/Kelsey McNeal)
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