On Tuesday, May 21, Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough won Dancing With the Stars Season 16. However, runners-up Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy nearly had it in the bag. So why didn't the Disney starlet take home the 2013 title? We may never know, but here are three reasons they should have been the pair to give the Mirror Ball a forever home.
1. Phenomenal dancing + huge fan base = win
Zendaya keeps reminding us that she's not a pro dancer, and it's true, but man is she talented. That Trio? She looked like the lead pro. She even taught Val how to do Hip Hop. If this isn't coming easy to her — and she and Val have said it's hard work — then A-plus for effort. Zendaya had the top score on Week 1, tied for top on Week 2, then took the top again on Week 5 and Week 8. Her lowest score all season was an 8. And she's not being handed anything — Baby Beyonce earned those scores. She and Val have created some amazing, memorable routines.
On top of that, have you seen her Twitter followers?! It would’ve been an interesting test to see Zendaya flop — could she still have gotten to the finals if she'd had a score of three fives? She has more than 2,674,000 Twitter followers, way more than anyone else. (Kellie Pickler is closest with 805,000.) Twitter isn’t everything, but Zendaya has won every Twitter vote she wanted, including Prom Queen. (Jacoby won Prom King, another thing to keep in mind...) It’s easy to send out a quick “Hey guys, vote for me here” note and have people just click and vote for you. It’s hard to know how much that helped her, though it didn't give her the win in the end.
2. She's just a kid
This has been her blessing and curse. She's only 16, so she would be the youngest-ever winner, taking the throne from Shawn Johnson, who entered the competition as an Olympic gymnast. If you wanna talk about previous experience giving you a boost, talk to the Olympians (like Aly Raisman). Then talk to the athletes (like Jacoby Jones). THEN talk to a dancing teen star like Zendaya. She's had to balance schoolwork with dancing. Yes, some DWTS celebs have to balance marriages and families with dancing, but not all 16-year-olds are known for this kind of discipline and motivation. She is a great role model for kids, without seeming fake or plastic. She's real and goofy and pokes fun at Val, while also holding herself to a high standard. We don't hear about her partying or getting into trouble, dressing in a scandalous way to get attention, etc. She's showing her millions of fans what it looks like to be a mature young adult who doesn't just give up on something after it gets boring or too tough or people criticize you for this or that. It's easy to give up, especially when you're young and still learning, but her story on DWTS should be less about how she came with so much experience than how she's leaving with so much maturity.
3. Val has never won before
Who doesn't love a first-time pro winner? DWTS is about the celebs, but we all know the pros are stars in their own right. Last season, fans were thrilled to see Tony Dovolani win his first Mirror Ball trophy. Val is the only pro in the Finals who has yet to win. Mark Ballas has already won twice (both times with Olympians, like Aly), and Derek Hough has won three times. Val got close last season with Kelly Monaco, and had to pull a 180 with Zendaya, going from the sexy showmance leading man to the stern-but-proud big brother. He's grown a lot himself this season, and even had to be humbled a bit last week when his celeb had more experience with a dance than him. Fans tend to vote for couples rather than just celebs or pros on their own, and these two have made for an oddly perfect pair. Sadly, their combined fan bases weren't enough to take home the Mirror Ball!
Do you think Zendaya and Val should have won Dancing With the Stars Season 16? Sound off in the comments!