This is it. The Dancing With the Stars Season 14 Mirror Ball trophy is about to find a forever home. Will it go to Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas, William Levy & Cheryl Burke or Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd? Or will Derek Hough end up stealing it in the night out of protest for being voted out of a finale for the first time since he took fourth with Joanna Krupa on Season 9?
Here are five reasons the win could go to Donald. (But we love all the finalists, so check back later for reasons why it could go to William or Katherine!)
1. Football players do well
Athletes in general do well on DWTS, for pretty obvious reasons — physical strength, stamina, discipline and large fan bases outside DWTS to tap into. Plus, everyone likes to see someone so far outside their comfort zone on the dance floor and it's hard to imagine anyone less like a graceful ballroom dancer than a football player. That helped Emmitt Smith win Season 3, led Jerry Rice and Jason Taylor to second place on Seasons 2 and 6, respectively, and led a guy named Hines Ward to victory this same time last year. Hines was more low-key about DWTS than the ultra-competitive and focused Donald, but Donald has Packer Nation backing him, like Steeler Nation backed Hines. Sports fans are loyal to the end!
2. He’s the underdog with the judges
It may actually be helping Donald that head judge Len Goodman refuses to give him a 10. Look what happened on the Semifinals — the judges raved over Derek and Maria Menounos, putting them at the top of the judges’ leaderboard, and they didn’t get enough votes to get to the end. Sometimes when the judges underscore someone — and “Underscored” could be Donald’s new middle name — that’s exactly what motivates fans to vote. Why bother moving from the couch without incentive? It would be a great victory and fitting end to their journey to see Donald and Peta finally get a perfect score for their Freestyle — or any other Finals routine — but as Val Chmerkovskiy put it, Donald doesn’t really need a 10 from Len to win. He needs 10s from millions of voters at home.
3. He wants this so bad — for himself and for Peta
Donald is a major DWTS fan. He loves the show. It’s always good when someone who actually cares about DWTS gets to the end, as opposed to someone whose agent maybe suggested it as a launching pad for their new basic cable show. Donald has been working like a beast from Week 1 to get to this point. He’s treating this like a serious Super Bowl game and when things go wrong you can tell how much it pains him. He wants this — but not just for himself, he wants it for Peta. Donald just told E! Online after the Semifinals Results Show, "I'm very happy … for Peta more than anything else because this is the opportunity for her to show she's the best dancer on Dancing With the Stars, and I'm glad I'm part of it. I love her to death." Aww! Donald and Peta have a sweet connection, kind of like Katherine and Mark, which could be an advantage over William and Cheryl, who seem to be more like allies than dear friends.
4. He rarely messes up
As we saw this week with Katherine, sometimes messing up is good motivation to get people to vote for you. But in the past, the best Freestyles have won contestants the trophy. You can’t flub your way through it. Both Katherine and William have histories of messing up little steps or forgetting moves or having a wardrobe malfunction or just something going wrong. With Donald, the only thing that tends to go wrong is the judges’ scores — sometimes they think Peta didn’t push him enough or they just seem to think he’s missing emotion or whatever. If Peta pulls out all the stops for Donald — especially showcasing his strength, like they did with their lifts in the Week 5 Argentine Tango — he will probably nail it and that could be the clincher.
5. He’s just a good guy to root for
Donald has an inspiring backstory, growing up one of five kids raised by a single mom. They were homeless for a while and lived out of a U-Haul truck. He and his brother turned to drugs and he admits he was a troubled kid, until he met his wife, Betina, and she helped turn his life around. Now he’s a loving husband and father to three pretty insanely adorable kids — and he even writes children’s books for them. He gets to do sexy dancing with Peta, but he’s always respectful and professional and even asked his wife for permission to take off his shirt on the dance floor. That’s the kind of guy viewers tend to support in the end. Remember another family friendly guy with an inspiring backstory by the name of J.R. Martinez?
Check back later this week for reasons we think William and Katherine will win the Mirror Ball Trophy.
Watch the next new episode of DWTS on Monday, May 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.
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