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After having four neck surgeries and waging a fight against cancer, Jennifer Grey "didn't even think about winning" when Dancing With the Stars began.

When she was handed the Mirror Ball trophy Tuesday, the health woes the 50-year-old battled made it even sweeter. "This is so unbelievable," she said.

"I feel so grateful, so blessed, that I had this opportunity. I don't know that there's any experience that will ever be anything like this again."

Derek Hough, Jennifer Grey Picture

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough are this season's champions.

Grey's title was effectively sealed 10 minutes before the big reveal, when lightning rod finalist Bristol Palin was named the season's third-place finisher.

It came down to Jennifer and Kyle Massey, who she bested with two perfect scores Monday, and whose fan support wasn't expected to match Bristol's.

After weeks of debate about Palin's staying power thanks to an active fan base, in the end it was not quite enough to deny Jennifer what was hers.

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Jennifer Grey turned back the clock and a strong challenge from Bristol Palin to win the Dancing With the Stars crown last night. Congrats to a deserving champ!

Battling through a ruptured disc in her back and other ailments throughout the fall, not to mention stiff competition, it's a victory the 50-year-old will savor.

"This journey was the gift," Jennifer, whose perfect performances Monday clinched it. "Saying yes was the gift. Getting Derek as a partner was a huge gift.”

Worthy of the Title

Jennifer Grey is your Dancing With the Stars winner!

The win also marked three-peat for Derek Hough.

"It's heavy, right?" he pretended to ask Jen, lifting the prestigious Mirror Ball trophy just beyond her reach. At that moment, she was probably walking on air?

Earlier, third-place finisher Bristol Palin announced that a win would be like "a big middle finger to all the people out there who hate my mom and hate me."

Because that's what the show is all about - dancing the haters. Follow the jump for a clip of Jennifer's reaction after the announcement of her victory ...

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Does Jennifer Grey deserve it because of the physical ailments she's overcome and the high scores she's consistently produced, week in and week out?

Does unheralded, charismatic Kyle Massey get the nod thanks to the rare blend of technical merit and fun he and Lacey Schwimmer bring to the table?

Does Bristol Palin deserve it because ... well, presumably people have some reason for stuffing the virtual ballot box for Sarah's daughter each Monday.

Who should win Dancing With the Stars this evening?

  • Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer
  • DWTS Promo Pic

The real (and possibly rigged, depending on who you believe) votes are cast, but THG's poll is open! Weigh in and watch the results along with us later ...

 

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Jennifer Grey has been a front-runner and fan favorite all season on Dancing With the Stars and was perfect - seriously, ALL 10s - in her final dances Monday.

Will that be enough to defeat Bristol Palin? You never know!

Bristol, Jennifer and Kyle Massey competed in two rounds of the Dancing with the Stars finals - a redemption dance of the judges' choosing, and freestyle. Jennifer and partner Derek Hough outclassed everyone. Now it's in voters' hands.

Derek Hough and Jennifer Grey Photo

HAND IT TO HER: Jennifer Grey deserves the Mirror Ball trophy.

It's very possible, given what the producers said yesterday about how the judges' scores factor into the overall totals, they were trying to pad Jennifer's lead hard core.

Not that she didn't deserve her perfect 10s, but after Audrina, Rick and most recently Brandy were voted off, you know the pros are pulling for Grey to take this thing.

On the flip side, Bristol's scores were on the high side too, but in proportion to how they scored both Jennifer Kyle. Here's a breakdown of last night, round by round:

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Jennifer Grey certainly made a statement last night.

With just one night remaining before the finals, and voters paying scant attention to scores for several weeks now, there is no margin for error. Everyone is at risk.

Kym and Hines Ward

Well, everyone but her. The way she and Derek Hough danced Monday, the other three pairs are tangoing for second. A perfect 30 once? Amazing. Twice? Unheard of.

HAND HER THE MIRRORBALL: Hopefully next week, the voters will.

The 90-minute program was probably the most entertaining of the season so far, as all the couples stepped up their game, including Bristol Palin, who wasn't terrible.

Not that she deserves to make the finals over Jennifer, Brandy or Kyle Massey. Each outperformed Bristol, predictably, last night as they have for the final month.

Let's break it down by couple. Regaining sole ownership of the top of the charts were Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough, whose efforts were pure perfection.

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Despite battling through major mental and physical anguish, Jennifer Grey continued to leave her mark as Dancing With the Stars' gold standard this season.

The stunning elimination of Audrina Patridge last week took the attention away from the fact that Jennifer, a favorite from day one, seemed to be fading a bit.

Might the rigors of training be catching up to her 50-year-old body? Could she be caving under the stress of six pressure-packed weeks? Apparently not!

Derek Hough and Jennifer Grey Picture

TOUCH OF GREY: Jennifer classes up the ballroom and tops the scoreboard.

Monday night was Dancing With the Stars' 200th episode, a milestone commemorated with team dances. The six remaining couples split up into teams of three for this.

Captained by former winners Kristi Yamaguchi and Apolo Anton Ohno, who picked their teams, the dancers busted moves left and right for the first scores of the night.

Yamaguchi’s couples - Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas, Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer, Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke - held their own in the cha cha cha for a total of 24.

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This one's straight out of the Lindsay Lohan Book of Bad Excuses.

On last night's Dancing With the Stars, Brandy rose to the top. That wasn't too big a surprise, but Jennifer Grey finishing fifth out of seven dancers was.

According to her partner, Derek Hough, blame it on the "guyliner."

D. Hough and J. Grey

Derek Hough blames the makeup department, not Jennifer Grey.

"This is what happened tonight," Derek said. "The dance was going well, I told [Jennifer] to get fierce, and she was all in it. And then at the end, this eyeliner got in my eye! Then I flew off and she was off balance and it was a mess."

"So basically, the moral of the story is don't wear eyeliner if you're a guy."

Hmm. You know, it doesn't seem to bother Adam Lambert ...

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Sure, Brandy and Audrina Patridge can move. But Jennifer Grey proved Monday that she's still the woman to beat on Dancing With the Stars this season.

More or less out of the spotlight for more than 20 years, that's quite a feat for a woman at the half-century mark. Her age has posed some issues, too.

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke

"Before the show, I thought, Oh, I should get some Botox, get rid of the wrinkles under my eyes," Grey admitted in an interview with Us Weekly.

Can anyone stop Jennifer and Derek Hough on Dancing With the Stars?

"When you put a lot of makeup, the lines become very apparent," she adds, but credits her husband of nine years, Clark Gregg, for talking her out of it.

Clark told her "not to touch anything, to be who I am, because I look great."

"Aging is inevitable and the idea that we can all be eternally youthful is the pitfall of our society," says Jennifer Grey, the mother of a daughter, Stella, 8.

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Jennifer Grey is 50 years old. 50. Think about how much more impressive that made the actress' Dancing With the Stars debut. Grey leads outright with 24 points!

While The Situation and Bristol Palin get more press, the Dirty Dancing star and Derek Hough got more points - 8s from all three judges for their Viennese Waltz.

"I'm surprised at how much fun it was to perform it," Jennifer said, noting that she feared coming on DWTS. Hough praised Grey as "honest" and "uplifting."

Not in the literal sense. Grey reportedly refuses to be lifted in the air on the show, which is too bad. Oh well. Check out her first routine of the season here:

Who do you think will win this season, and who are you rooting for to take home DWTS' coveted Mirror Ball? Vote in our survey after the jump ...

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