Photo: Adam TaylorFirst, she won hearts on "American Idol," but only finished in sixth place. Now, Kellie Pickler has another reality show accolade to her name, and this time she's right on top. Pickler was crowned winner of "Dancing With the Stars" Tuesday, taking home the mirrorball trophy after narrowly beating out Disney Channel star Zendaya Coleman for the honor.
Pickler is the first "American Idol" alum to win DWTS. Her season 16 victory, with partner Derek Hough, was hard-won. The pair were a mere one point below Zendaya and partner Val Chmerkovskly on Monday night, having performed a gravity-defying, tear-jerking freestyle number that earned a perfect score from the judges.
Still, they entered the finale in second place, but after earning yet another perfect score -- combined with viewer appreciation votes -- they pulled forward to narrowly take the title.
The pair also edged out Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones to their ultimate victory.
Pickler, an undeniable fan favorite from the start, received critical praise for her consistent improvement over the season. Judge Len Goodman pronounced her the "bee's knees," while Carrie Ann Inaba claimed she and Hough were "wonder twins."
"Oh my gosh! This is amazing!" the startled country singer exclaimed after winning the title and giving Hough a big hug.
The evening also included performances from PSY, Pitbull, and fellow country star/contestant Wynonna Judd, who was eliminated early in the season.