Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba says Hannah Brown’s Season 28 mirrorball victory came as a big shock to her, as well as the rest of the ballroom.
“It’s not what I expected,” Carrie Ann, 51, told Us Weekly after Monday night’s season finale of Dancing with the Stars.
“But this whole season has been filled with ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns.”
Hannah and her professional partner Alan Bersten won the competition, while comedian and actor Kel Mitchell and partner Witney Carson finished as the runner-up couple.
Pop star and Fifth Harmony member Ally Brooke and partner Sasha Farber placed third, and country singer and former American Idol finalist Lauren Alaina and partner Gleb Savchenko claimed fourth place.
Another big surprise of the season was when actor James Van Der Beek, a frontrunner all season long, and partner Emma Slater were cut from the show in the semi-finals.
“I think, always, the right person wins on Dancing With the Stars because it’s a collaborative vote between the judges’ scores and the audience. And what the audience says is very important and we honor it,” Carrie Ann explained to Us.
But the judge revealed “a lot of people were shocked tonight in the ballroom,” saying the reaction to The Bachelorette star’s victory was something she had never witnessed before on Dancing with the Stars.
“I’ve never felt that from the ballroom when a winner was announced like tonight,” Carrie Ann said, seemingly ignoring the shocked reactions that resulted when radio personality Bobby Bones and partner Sharna Burgess won Season 27 last year.
“I think Hannah has had a really challenging journey, but I think in the end she rose, and I’m really proud of her.”
Carrie Ann also wouldn’t reveal which couple she was expecting to win Season 28’s mirrorball trophy instead of Hannah and Alan.
“To be honest, I don’t know if I had a specific idea [of] who I thought was going to win,” Carrie Ann explained to the magazine.
“I just knew that all four — and even all five, actually, even James — could have been up here and it would’ve been great to see anybody win. It was just, for some reason, I don’t know why that was shocking.”
On Monday night’s Dancing with the Stars finale, Ally and Sasha received the highest number of judges’ points for their two routines, followed by Kel and Witney and then Hannah and Alan.
Hannah definitely had a roller-coaster ride of an experience on Dancing with the Stars. Not only did she have multiple emotional breakdowns in rehearsal, but she was also at odds with Carrie Ann at one point.
Carrie Ann repeatedly asked Hannah to open up, be vulnerable and show her heart on the dance floor, but Hannah internalized such critiques as being personal and a bit more harsh than feedback her opponents had been receiving from the panel.
Carrie Ann insisted to Hannah that she wasn’t an adversary and was just trying to help and make her a better dancer, which prompted Hannah to apologize for being “dismissive” of the judge’s guidance and advice.
After a brutally honest conversation with tears involved, Hannah and Carrie Ann hugged it out. Carrie Ann’s went on to praise Hannah’s dance routines and be more of a source of confidence for the contestant.
“[I’m] excited to see where [Hannah is] going to go from here,” Carrie Ann added.
“This is a bittersweet moment for the season to end because it was such a great season. I’ll miss Season 28.”
Now that The Bachelorette’s fifteenth season and Dancing with the Stars are over, reality TV fans can look forward to the premiere of Peter Weber’s The Bachelor season on January 6, 2020 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.
Hannah will be making an appearance on Peter’s season, according to a promo for The Bachelor that aired during Monday night’s Dancing with the Stars finale.