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November 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Twenty-three years after she co-starred with the late Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey has made a triumphant comeback as the winner of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. In a storybook ending watched by 24.13 million viewers, the 50-year-old Grey defeated 20-year-old Bristol Palin, who had become a popular favorite if not the favorite of the show’s judges.

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough

Grey, however, overcame not only the avid zeal of Palin’s supporters — many of them committed members of the Tea Party who support her mother’s presumed presidential candidacy — but also injuries to Grey’s anatomy. She revealed Tuesday that during her first dance with partner Derek Hough on Monday’s performance finale, she ruptured a spinal disc. Grey’s victory ended one of the most stormy controversies to hit the blogosphere since last year’s elections — as charges flew that Sarah Palin’s supporters were gaming the show’s voting system by using phony email addresses to vote dozens of times. But Bristol shot back, “Winning this would mean a lot. It would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me.” In the end, however, Palin settled for third place, behind Grey and former Disney Channel child star Kyle Massey. “It’s been a life-changing experience and I’ve had the time of my life,” she said. But the outcome did not silence her detractors. In reporting the results, even the conservative New York Post remarked in its lede: “Bristol Palin, a lead-footed hoofer who incredibly made it to the Dancing with the Stars finals, tripped-up in the last leg to the Mirror Ball trophy last night…” “The Tea Party is over, at least on Dancing With the Stars, said the Boston Herald. And the Los Angeles Times remarked that Palin exited the show “with more grace than she often exhibited on the dance floor.”