Top 10 Best Dancing with the Stars Winners
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Script written by Spencer Sher
These are the best Dancing with the Stars winners! For this list, we'll be looking at ten of the best “Dancing with the Stars” winners and ranking them based on a combination of talent, personality, charisma, and variety. We'll only be considering actual winners for this list, so runners-up or third place finishers will not be included, despite how good they may have been. We've included contestants like Apolo Ohno, J.R. Martinez, Bindi Irwin, Emmitt Smith and more!
Top 10 Best Dancing with the Stars Winners
Talk about being multi-talented. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten best “Dancing with the Stars” winners.
For this list, we’ll be looking at ten of the best “Dancing with the Stars” winners and ranking them based on a combination of talent, personality, charisma, and variety. We’ll only be considering actual winners for this list, so runners-up or third place finishers will not be included, despite how good they may have been.
#10: Apolo Ohno
It’s no secret that athletes often make the best contestants on “Dancing with the Stars,” and this eight-time short-track speed skating medalist was no exception. Ohno appeared in the show’s fourth season and was partnered with Julianne Hough. While they scored unanimous 7s in their first week, they really picked it up with their second week quickstep, scoring two 9s and an 8. However, they solidified their place in DWTS history with their fifth week samba, becoming the first couple to score three 10s. They would accomplish this feat four more times throughout the season, so it’s no surprise that they were crowned the victors. Add the trophy to his list. Oh Yes.
#9: J.R. Martinez
J.R. Martinez is a former US Army soldier who was disfigured in an explosion while serving in the Middle East. He suffered burns on roughly a third of his body and was forced to undergo more than thirty plastic surgeries. But, incredibly, he has not let this immense tragedy stop him, and has pursued a career as a motivational speaker and actor; he appeared in the show’s thirteenth season alongside Karina Smirnoff. The two would score unanimous 10s on four separate occasions, leading to Smirnoff’s first victory as a choreographer. Martinez was not only a fantastic dancer, but a terrific personality who proved the virtues of motivation and persistence, to say the least.
#8: Emmitt Smith
Emmitt Smith certainly had a reputation going into season 3 of DWTS. Smith was an all-star football running back who won three Super Bowls and became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. So he could run, but could he shimmy? Well, he was the man to beat, and fortunately, he did not disappoint. Smith was a great dancer who worked well with Cheryl Burke, and his numerous improvisations were praised by both Burke and the judges. While other dancers may have received better scores, Smith’s personality and focus ensured his victory, and he became the first athlete to win the competition.
#7: Bindi Irwin
Bindi Irwin is the late Steve Irwin’s daughter who has dabbled in acting, singing, game show hosting, and hosting instructional fitness DVDs. However, she truly made a name for herself during season 21 of “Dancing with the Stars,” where she was partnered with veteran Derek Hough. To say that they made a terrific couple would be an understatement. They took off right out of the gate, scoring unanimous 8s in their first week with a great jive. They would then make DWTS history by scoring unanimous 10s on eight separate occasions, a record for the show. They scored three perfect scores in the finale alone, which was more than enough to ensure their predicted victory.
#6: Nicole Scherzinger
Before her own TV hosting career, Nicole Scherzinger was the lead vocalist for the Pussycat Dolls, one of the most successful groups of the 2000s. She appeared in the show’s tenth season alongside Derek Hough. The two received the highest score on twelve occasions and received four perfect scores, including two in the finale. They also received the season’s highest score average of 27.5, beating out runner-ups Evan and Anna, who scored 26.3. While Nicole was the favorite to win, Evan and Anna certainly made it a battle, and it was exciting to watch the two super couples battle it out week after week.
#5: Alfonso Ribeiro
Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” was not only one of the most famous contestants on “Dancing with the Stars,” he was also, unsurprisingly given his b-boy past, one of the best dancers. During the show’s nineteenth season, Ribeiro earned five perfect scores, including three in the finale alone. You know you’ve got the trophy in the bag when you score three perfect scores in the finale. And while his dancing with Witney Carson was certainly great, his fun and infectious personality ensured that he became both a judge- and fan favorite. He remains, without a doubt, one of the show’s most memorable contestants.
#4: Jennifer Grey
We aren’t saying that “Dirty Dancing” made Jennifer Grey a terrific dancer, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Grey was a fan favorite going into the show’s eleventh season due to her star power and previous dancing experience, and she did not disappoint. She and Derek earned the highest score on an incredible thirteen dances and earned five perfect scores, ensuring Jennifer’s win over her main competitors, Kyle Massey and Bristol Palin. Despite some injuries and setbacks, she was sexy, she was cool, and she proved that she could dance with the best of them. You could almost say that she . . . had the time of her life dancing on this show. Yeah, we said it.
#3: Shawn Johnson East
The trophy was Shawn Johnson East’s to lose. She went into the show’s eighth season as an Olympic balance beam gold medalist, three-time Olympic silver medalist, and five-time Pan American Games gold medalist. That is a hella impressive résumé, and she fully used her incredible athleticism to her advantage. While she only earned the highest score on four of her sixteen dances (and two lowest scores to boot), that athleticism, her chemistry with Mark Ballas, and her infectious personality ensured that she became a season favorite. While East definitely faced stiff competition, her persistent hard work and skill eventually won out in the end.
#2: Nyle DiMarco
This model, actor, and activist had an amazing two-year run in 2015 and 2016. First, he became only the second man to win “America’s Next Top Model”; then he became the second Deaf contestant ever on “Dancing with the Stars,” after Marlee Matlin, who was the sixth person eliminated in her season. Nyle and partner Peta Murgatroyd were instant fan favorites due to the couple’s obvious chemistry and persistence, and the two earned an incredible sixteen 10s, including three perfect scores. Nyle was a great dancer, but it was also his charming and inspiring personality which won over viewers.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
#1: Meryl Davis
Meryl Davis is a highly acclaimed ice dancer who has won an Olympic gold medal, two World Championships, three Four Continents Championships, and five Grand Prix Finals. Whew. Both viewers and judges had high expectations for her in the show’s 18th season. Luckily for her, and our expectations, Davis proved to be one of, if not the best dancer in the show’s history. She (and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy) wowed us all, dance after dance, earning six perfect scores and the highest score on eleven of her fifteen dances. While some debated the fairness of her inclusion, Davis nevertheless set the bar for future contestants. As Len Goodman said, “There’s good, there’s great, and there’s Meryl.”