Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke win Dancing with the Stars 3

Fifty-eight minutes and eight seconds into the live finale of Dancing with the Stars 3, the winning team was finally announced: Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke. This is Cheryl’s second win. No vote totals were announced, probably just to fuel conspiracy theories that Mario, who dressed up for the occasion in a brand-new A-shirt from Wal-Mart, was robbed, even if he was a ringer.

The announcement came after encore performances, a brief pitch for the show’s tour, a clip package that recapped this season, dances with the eliminated couples who pretended to look like they still cared, clip packages with each of the two finalists’ friends and family, the eliminated celebrities telling us their favorite moments and trying to be witty, a clip package and interview with the finalists and their partners, and co-host Samantha Harris doing her best Rita Cosby impression.

The segment with Mario and Karina Smirnoff did its best to ambiguously suggest the two are in a relationship, even though they denied they are a couple, with Mario saying it’s just “clever editing.” In the interview, however, Karina said, “I think of him as my castle, as my wall of protection, simply because I don’t think there is anything that we won’t be able to overcome in the future if there is any more obstacles. He’s unbelievable, unbelievable.”

Mario said, coyly, “Karina is more than just my teacher. She’s my stand-up comedian, she’s my friend, she’s my little dictator, she’s all the wonderful things you can think of that make for a great pair.” And then Karina said, ambiguously, “I hope this is going to last for a long, long time for us.” If it does last a long time, hopefully it won’t drag as much as the damn finale.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.