updated 11/24/2010 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/24/2010 AT 10:35 AM ET
With less than 10 minutes remaining in Tuesday’s live finale of Dancing with the Stars, millions of fans must have breathed a collective sigh upon learning that season 11’s controversial finalist Bristol Palin had come in third place.
After weeks of tumult about Palin’s staying power thanks to an active voting fan base, in the end it was not enough and actress Jennifer Grey and partner Derek Hough were crowned the champs.
“I didn’t even think about winning when I first started. This is so unbelievable,” said Grey, 50, who has had four neck surgeries and battled cancer. “I feel so grateful, so blessed, that I had this opportunity to spend three months learning to dance and getting paid for it. I don’t know that there’s any experience that will ever be anything like this again.”
Meanwhile, this win is Hough’s third on the show, following last season’s victory with Nicole Scherzinger and season 7’s with Brooke Burke.