Emmitt Smith wins 'Dancing' trophy over early favorite

Hunter Hauk
The Dallas Morning News

A year ago, people might have laughed upon hearing the words, "Emmitt Smith, champion ballroom dancer." But on Wednesday night's "Dancing With the Stars" finale, those words became reality as the former Dallas Cowboys running back and his partner, Cheryl Burke, were crowned the season three winners.

Smith and Burke defeated Mario Lopez and partner Karina Smirnoff, who for much of the season were considered the front-runners by a mile. But Smith's rhythm and radiant smile helped him eclipse Lopez in popularity in the final weeks, making Wednesday's results not too much of a surprise for "Dancing" fanatics.

Smith's immediate reaction to the good news: "It is awesome. It is awesome. We've come a long way." He went on to compliment Lopez for being a "true gentleman," as Smirnoff stood by, on the verge of tears.

In addition to seemingly endless recaps of previous shows, the hourlong finale contained a few pleasant surprises. Former Cowboys Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete were among those from Emmitt's camp who spoke about him in interviews. Peete poked fun at the shiny outfits Smith wore for his dances.

Smith's wife, Pat, said in her interview, "When I first saw my husband get out there on the dance floor, it blew me away."

Judge Len Goodman expressed similar amazement about the champ's accomplishments this season: "He's got just a beautiful, easy rhythm."

Before he was announced the winner, Smith elaborated on his "Dancing" strategy: "It's just a matter of focusing on what you want to do, staying there, and then going on the floor and letting it all out."

Yep, that'll do it.





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