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Dancing With the Stars Finale: And the Winner Is...

DWTS, Finalists ABC/ADAM TAYLOR

To the victor goes the spoils! Or, in this case, a funny little trophy shaped like a mirror ball.

But that glittering orb has become quite the coveted accessory among the Hollywood elite(ish) over the last few years, and Hines Ward, Kirstie Alley and Chelsea Kane were all itching to get their hands on it heading into tonight's Dancing With the Stars finale.

After a hard-fought final round that saw an NFL star and a Disney princess go neck and neck, with a noticeably slimmer Emmy winner hot on their heels, who claimed ultimate glory upon the conclusion of DWTS' 12th season?

GALLERY: DWTS Season 12: Step by Step

Pittsburgh Steelers star Hines Ward and his wounded swan, Kym Johnson, won it all in the end.

"I started this competition, I never thought I'd be in the finals, but I owe it all to Kym," the two-time Super Bowl winner said. "She's an amazing teacher. I want to thank the judges for giving us their constructive criticism to help me get better each week. But also I want to thank all the fans."

Flash to Steeler Nation back home waving their black and gold "I'm 4 Hines" signs. He's the second NFL player (but the first active one) to take the title, the other being Emmitt Smith in season three.

This also marks Kym's second championship, her first coming in season nine with Donny Osmond.

In a bit of an upset, however, it was Kirstie and Maksim Chmerkovskiy who wound up in second place!

"It's the most extraordinary adventure I've ever been on in my life," the former Cheers star said afterward, "and I want to thank...I love Maks."

"It's been a special season," Maks agreed. "I have words for all the partners I've had: This is the 10th trophy that I've got, and it's been an amazing season."

Aw, Maks, don't leave...

And despite being the best dancers on the floor, Chelsea and partner Mark Ballas were relegated to third and a pair of stoic, yet disappointed-looking, smiles. The 22-year-old Jonas L.A. cutie may have gained millions of fans, but Kirstie and Hines started with millions.

It truly is a viewers'-choice world these days!

After an hour and a half of filler (all the stars danced, the Go-Go's performed, etc.), the finalists performed a blast-from-the-past dance for one more score.

Chelsea and Mark went for the Harry Potter waltz that Len Goodman sniffed at the first time, but which earned them a perfect 30 tonight.

Kirstie and Maks harkened back to their "first date," i.e. the season premiere when Kirstie surprised everyone with her cha-cha skills. Well, she charmed us all yet again, and earned her first 30 to boot!

"A 100-proof cocktail of effervescent fun!" Bruno Tonioli exclaimed.

Hines and Kym, of course, could do no wrong by pulling the samba out of mothballs. Another MVP performance and another 30 for the football stud and his partner, who rebounded from a shocking injury to lead her champ to the winners' circle.

WATCH: Kirstie charms one more time on Dancing With the Stars

(Originally published May 24, 2011, at 8 p.m. PT)

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