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Kellie Pickler talks journey from 'Idol' loss to 'Dancing With the Stars' win

May 22, 2013 at 9:35 AM ET

Kellie Pickler and her "Dancing With the Stars" pro partner, Derek Hough.
Craig Sjodin / ABC
Kellie Pickler and her "Dancing With the Stars" pro partner, Derek Hough.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Kellie Pickler told reporters in the press line Tuesday night right after she and pro partner Derek Hough were declared the season 16 champions of "Dancing With the Stars."

“I’m kind of speechless,” the singer continued. “Usually, I can’t be quiet. I’m spitting out words left and right but right now I don’t know what to say!”

Hough said the victory came by focusing on each dance, week by week, and not any specific long-range strategy.

“Over the last few seasons, my mentality has been about just doing good work,” he said. “I really feel like Kellie reached this amazing potential and pinnacle (Monday night) with our freestyle. I’m so proud of her. It was just incredible. Not only is she an amazing dancer for what she’s accomplished, but she’s an amazing soul and person. I’m really happy for her.”

Pickler’s win is a reminder that you just never know where life is going to take you.

Back in 2006, she went to a production studio in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles and performed on "American Idol." She came in sixth place.

Tuesday night, she performed one last time on "Dancing With the Stars" -- on another stage in the same building as the "Idol" studio. This time, she won.

“It’s funny,” she said after the show. “A lot of people have thought that I won ‘Idol,’ but I did not. Derek and I went over to the ‘Idol’ stage two nights ago and now it’s just this big empty studio. I’d never seen it like that.

“So we’re standing there,” Pickler continued. “I walked into the middle of the room and Derek said, ‘Babe, this is where it all started, this room.’ I asked him, ‘How do I hug this room and say thank you?’ You fast-forward to now and I’m on this side of the building and I want to hug this room and everyone in it. It’s just been unbelievable. It’s just been great.”

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