J.R. Martinez, Karina Smirnoff, DWTS


Dancing With the Stars' newest champion didn't even need to hoist the mirror-ball to be deemed a winner.

It's a fluke that J.R. Martinez, a former U.S. Army infantryman, is even alive today after 40 percent of his body was severely burned in a landmine explosion while he was serving in Iraq in 2003. But what he's done since—get back into fighting shape, travel the country as a motivational speaker and land a role on All My Children—has been the stuff of fairytales.

Let's just say that J.R. is No. 1 when it comes to deserving that win last night. Even better, he was a really good dancer. But...he wasn't the best, technically.

So, we've taken the liberty of ranking the DWTS champions through the years to see where J.R.'s twinkle toes stack up:

Apolo Anton Ohno, Julianna Hough

Carol Kaelson/ABC

1. Apolo Ohno, Season 4: Whoa, could this cutie dance! Sure, the Olympic gold-medalist speed skater (have you ever seen the thighs on those guys?!) had the good fortune to be paired with the super-talented Julianne Hough in her DWTS debut—but Apolo easily mastered her increasingly tough choreography. Now their samba (remember Julianne in the striped cat suit?) was a 10. Extra points because he beat Joey Fatone, who was surprisingly light on his feet. (Like, handstand-light on his feet.)

Kristi Yamaguchi, Mark Ballas, Dancing with the Stars


2. Kristi Yamaguchi, Season 6: Of course the Olympic gold medalist insisted that figure skating is totally different than ballroom dancing, that one skill set has nothing to do with the other. But come on. Kristi had the flexibility, the rhythm, the timing, the body...and, ultimately, the mirror-ball.

Drew Lachey, Dancing with the Stars

ABC/Carol Kaelson

3. Drew Lachey, Season 2: This whole DWTS concept was still relatively new when Nick Lachey's little brother beat out future George Clooney gal-pal Stacy Keibler for the win. While he was consistently impressive all season, it was the "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" freestyle choreographed by then-newcomer Cheryl Burke that brought the mirror-ball trophy home.

Nicole Scherzinger, DWTS


4. Nicole Scherzinger, Season 10: The Pussycat Doll took the trophy away from newly minted gold medalist Evan Lysacek—a feat in and of itself, considering the track record of Olympians on this show. But while The X Factor's resident softie (Paula Abdul's emotional fluctuations merit an adjective unto themselves) wasn't the most thrilling person to hear from when the music had stopped, she shone on the floor like, yes, a mirror-ball.

DWTS, Cheryl Burke, Emmitt Smith

ABC / Adam Larkey

5. Emmitt Smith, Season 3: Let's get this straight: The retired Dallas Cowboys star was not technically better than Mario Lopez. But, as the judges pointed out, Emmitt danced exactly the way that men whose wives and girlfriends nag them to take ballroom lessons want to look like—strong, suave, commanding and oh-so-cool. Besides, when it came down to A.C. Slater vs. the three-time Super Bowl champ and future NFL Hall of Famer for all the marbles...Who did you vote for, Preppy?

Jennifer Grey, Derek Hough, DWTS


6. Jennifer Grey, Season 11: Having to perform amid all the Bristol Palin hoopla must have been distracting. Combine that with a nagging neck injury and the fact that Jennifer starred in one of the most iconic dance movies of all time (her costar from which had unfathomably passed away only a year beforehand) and you have quite the pressure cooker. But the 50-year-old actress kept her cool and her circa-1987 bangin' bod. Like the season just past, it was definitely a feel-good win.

DWTS, Brooke Burke


7. Brooke Burke, Season 7: In addition to at-home audiences, she charmed the crew and ended up with a cohosting job! And she really does know what it feels like to be a frontrunner, take a few steps back with a bum dance, and then kick it up a notch at just the right time to take home the mirror-ball. This was the first of three wins for Derek Hough, who finally got the partner he needed—hot, likable and talented.

8. J.R. Martinez, Season 13: The dancing was hit and miss, but his personality was off the charts.

Kelly Monaco, John Hurley, DWTS, Dancing with the Stars

Adam Larkey/ABC

9. Kelly Monaco/John O'Hurley, Season 1: Why the tie? Well, Kelly won the inaugural season of DWTS, but there was such an outcry (what, did J. Peterman fans sleep through the finale?) when she won that ABC held a post-season dance-off that was won by John. First of all, hats off to both of them for being among the first guinea pigs to take part in this seemingly laughable experiment that turned into a smash hit. Kelly's frame was more malleable, John was smoother, and they both brought unique charm to the floor.



10. Donny Osmond, Season 9: The baby-faced 51-year-old left us so joyful we almost joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Some of his routines ventured too far into kitsch, but overall we dug his bouncy presence—and the man could dance.

Shawn Johnson, Mark Ballas, Dancing with Stars


11. Shawn Johnson, Season 8: No offense to the Olympic gold-medalist gymnast, but this was certainly a case of patriotism over panache (second runner-up Gilles Marini, remember?). But the fiercely strong athlete brought more tricks to the floor than the flip-happy Mark Ballas could have pictured in his wildest dreams, and—what with all the guts and timing you have to have when you're balancing on a beam and vaulting into the air—she proved an impossible-to-beat competitor.

DWTS, Kym Johnson, Hines Ward


12. Hines Ward, Season 12: The Super Bowl-winning wide receiver was no Emmitt Smith. But he had the football hero thing going for him and just enough extra moves and suavity to top the hard-charging Kirstie Alley in the final tally.

DWTS, Helio Castroneves

ABC/Carol Kaelson

13. Hélio Castroneves, Season 5: Personally, we think the boisterous IndyCar champ rode the revved-up Julianne Hough train into the winner's circle, robbing Maks Chmerkovskiy—who had Mel B on his arm—of his most realistic shot at the mirror-ball to date. Not that Hélio couldn't dance, but maybe the voters were still on an athletic high following wins by Emmitt and Apolo. Or, maybe America just really loves a guy in head-to-toe yellow.

But what do you think about how the winners stack up? Go ahead and sound off in the comments section!

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