With J.R. Martinez victory, has Dancing with the Stars crowned its least-known winner yet?
Their roster of winners has included world-famous singing stars, gold medal-level Olympic athletes and Super Bowl MVPs.
But the victory Tuesday of J.R. Martinez -- a wounded soldier-turned-soap opera actor and motivational speaker -- may have given blockbuster competition Dancing with the Stars its least-known winner in recent years, dovetailing with a dip in ratings that has led even the show's host to wonder if ABC airs the show too often.
At least Martinez saved the show from handing its coveted mirrorball trophy to a Kardashian; the ex-soldier beat out reality TV star Rob Kardashian, who fueled another of show's big upsets when he beat out talk show host/actress Ricki Lake for one of the top two spots early in Tuesday's finale.
Like actress Kirstie Alley in the previous cycle, Lake was something of a surrogate for the show's middle-aged female fan base, yet remained unable to overcome Kardashian's Cinderella story as a mediocre dancer who flowered during the contest.
But the show's real Cinderella story, of course, was Martinez, whose upbeat attitude and surprising dance skill only highlighted how completely he has overcome the wartime injuries which still have left massive scars across his face.
"Thank you America, for believing in us," he said breathlessly, after his win was announced. Turning to thank professional dance partner Karina Smirnoff, he gushed "you are amazing and I'm so grateful I was able to be a part of your first mirrorball trophy."
Attitude seemed to be the key to victory for the top participants. Arguably bigger stars such as Olympian Hope Solo and talk show host Nancy Grace were cut before the finals after a string of embarrassing moments and egotistical outbursts. Grace was often shown berating her professional dancer partner in rehearsals, while Solo and pro partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy openly derided the judges for low scores.
Tuesday's finale was packed with typical reality show filler, from Lady Antebellum singing "I Need You Now" for what must be the millionth time on TV, while previously ejected competitors such as Carson Kressley and David Arquette also returned to prance a bit.
Still, as touching as Martinez's victory was, ABC might think twice about a result in which a guy from a canceled soap opera wins the 13th cycle of their aging televised dance contest. Just sayin'.