But when her Dallas/Forth Worth hometown area Pegasus News asked if there was something she did different this time to help her win, she answered, "I think our attitude this time around [helped]. Tony and I, this time in the competition, were so much more relaxed than we were in Season 8."
Melissa entered Season 8 as a last-minute replacement for the injured Nancy O'Dell. The former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader was hot off The Bachelor and really felt the pressure to do well.
"Season 8, there was a lot of hype behind it, and there were a lot of expectations behind it," she continued. "Because of that, you put pressure on yourself of what you feel people expect you to do. This time around, we didn’t really feel expectations. [...] When you don’t feel that people expect you to be the frontrunner, it’s actually easier to go out and dance your hardest, and then you're surprising people. I think that mentality that we had really helped us, especially the last couple of weeks of the competition when we started gaining momentum."
That exact reasoning for what may have helped Melissa may be what hurt Gilles Marini, who took second place on Season 8, in the sandwich between Shawn and Melissa. He had frontrunner expectations on his back through All-Stars, and that isn't an easy load to carry. He ended up placing sixth.
Melissa said she'll never say never to any future TV career opportunities that may come up, but for now she's happy to be able to share her DWTS success with her family — and her daughter, Ava, can watch herself in the DWTS audience years from now, when she's old enough to really understand the experience.