After a record-breaking 21.6 million votes, American has chosen a favorite dancer for the fifth time.
"I'm delighted, I love surprises, and I think it was a bit of a surprise tonight," said Nigel Lythgoe backstage after the finale. The champion was named from the top four group that included leggy talent Kayla Radomski (aka White Lightning), technical genius Brandon Bryant, jazzy personality Jeanine Mason and Broadway baby Evan Kasprzak.
It was quite a surprise, even for the winner, who was in a state of shock following the announcement, and said to us backstage, "It honestly feels like nothing right now. I just feel numb from head to toe. I know when it does hit me, I'll probably run around my apartment 5,000 times screaming at the top of my lungs. Other than that, I'm just so excited to be here."
So who was the big winner of So You Think You Can Dance season five?
Jeanine Mason, who is just 18 years old, took the win tonight even though she never even imagined she'd be standing up there with the top four. Jeanine said, "Someone asked me earlier if I ever had a feeling I would get eliminated and I said 'Every week!' Every week you literally sit there and think you're about to go home. I'm so happy that I didn't go home and was still here and that I got voted America's favorite dancer, which is just ridiculous."
As for her nearest competition, Brandon, Jeanine said, "He is amazing. Brandon [Bryant] is such a strong dancer. I grew so much because he took me to a level that I never thought I could go to. He made me just live there. He was not willing to come down and bring down his strengths for me. He's like, 'Jeanine, you're going to meet me there.' He's my Miami buddy, and we went up thinking, either way, it's a win for Miami."
"I did for a split second think that I could have a chance," said runner-up Brandon. "But I knew that [Jeanine] was strong, and I knew that I was strong. This time was for her reach, not mine." Brandon also told us he has a special place in his heart for his fellow top four dancers, especially Evan. "He's dedicated and he's so amazing. I'm glad that he proved everyone wrong and just came in here strong with us four."
For their part, the judges declared themselves surprised by tonight's results. Nigel told us, "Jeanine didn't come on my radar until much later on when she lost Phillip [Chbeeb] as a partner. I said, 'Wow, now you're stepping into your real potential because you're allowed to explode.' I didn't think she'd get into the final, but when she did, I thought she was outstanding. I still thought Brandon would win in my heart of hearts. I think she's a great representative of this program and of dance in general."
In Mary Murphy's opinion, she thought we'd be toasting to Evan Kasprzak tonight. "To be honest with you, I thought Evan could win. I think there's a lot of people that did. I didn't think that he was the best dancer, but a lot of times the best dancer hasn't won the show." Evan was thrilled to have made it so far into the competition, "I'm ecstatic. I never would've thought, when I auditioned in Memphis, that I would be in this position and I would be standing on the Kodak stage in front of 3,000 people with the potential to be America's favorite dancer. I'm ecstatic to have just gotten to be a part of it all. It's amazing."
Still, Evan holds no hard feelings against those who considered him an underdog. "I don't really feel picked on. I think the judges say what they're feeling, so it's legit," he told us. As for the winner, Evan says, "I think Jeanine is very deserving, and she has worked so hard. She's an absolutely spectacular dancer." Fellow finalist Kayla Radomski agreed, saying, "I'm so proud of her, she's worked really hard, and I'm just so happy for her."
Next up for the SYTYCD season five competitors comes the 40-city tour. After that the top four are packing their bags and heading for Los Angeles, except for Evan, who will be heading east instead of west. Evan says he will finish school eventually, but he thinks Broadway could be in his future.
Were you pleased that Jeanine is America's favorite dancer or did you imagine someone else up on that stage? Hit the comments!
See Jeanine's So You Think You Can Dance journey from the top 20 until now.