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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward danced his way to victory on Tuesday to win the 12th season of the hit celebrity TV competition, "Dancing With the Stars.
Ward, a Super Bowl MVP, triumphed along with partner Kym Johnson over finalists Chelsea Kane, dancing with Mark Ballas, and Kirstie Alley who was paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
"I never thought I'd be in the finals, but I owe it all to Kim. She's an amazing teacher," Ward said of his journey on the TV show.
He also thanked the judges for their constructive criticism, and said he hoped he had done a good job representing Pittsburgh.
The cliffhanger win followed the couple's spirited Samba, performed in front of an ecstatic studio crowd as the show's resident orchestra belted out Earth Wind and Fire's disco hit "Fantasy."
Wearing a black figure-hugging pantsuit with accents of yellow that matched his partner's short-skirted dress, Hines seemed to enjoy himself as much as his cheering fans.
The win was a disappointment for former "Cheers" star and fan favorite Alley, especially after her performance with the heart-throb dance professional Chmerkovskiy wowed the judges.
From the season's start the star endeared herself to fans with self-deprecating asides to the camera, as well as occasional and embarrassing falls to the dance floor.
"It's like the most extraordinary adventure I've ever been on in my whole life," Alley said.
Despite earning the night's first perfect 10 score, it wasn't enough to beat Hines, who takes home the famous mirror ball trophy as winner.
Disney actress and singer Kane, who provides the voice of Bea Goldfishberg on the Disney Channel animated series "Fish Hooks,": took third place with her partner Ballas.
Highlights of the finale included a musical performance by The Black Eyed Peas.
Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Jill Serjeant