Nov. 5, 2013 at 10:25 AM ET
The first pair declared safe on Monday night's "Dancing With the Stars" was probably the last pair anyone expected to be safe — Bill Engvall and pro partner Emma Slater. Sure, they trailed in points, but fan votes saved them again.
“Bookies in Las Vegas had us going home first,” Slater told TODAY. “I owe (our being here still) all to Bill.”
Clearly, viewers have gravitated toward the comedian's everyman appeal — as well as the dynamic he shares with Slater.
“I have fallen in love with this girl as a paternal friend,” Engvall said. “I’ll be in the church when she gets married. And when she has her first baby, I’ll be the granddad to her kids even though we’re not related.”
Last week, Engvall contemplated voluntarily exiting the competition, but the sage words of pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy helped him see that he has every right to continue.
“Val’s words to me were golden,” Engvall said. “He helped me realize that Emma and I have our journey on this show and that other couples have theirs. You don’t have competitors here. You compete against yourself.”
And the ballroom's other hoofers understand why Engvall's still in it to win it.
“Bill’s so relatable,” pro Cheryl Burke offered. “He has so much fun doing it. After every dance, even if he messes up, he just jumps for joy as if he’s just won the lotto.”
“I want Bill to win just so I can see his reaction when he wins the mirror ball trophy,” said Burke's partner, Jack Osbourne. “He’ll be so much happier than anyone I know.”
And don’t be surprised if Engvall ends up in the finals.
“Bill’s not going anywhere,” said Burke. “He could just not dance and he’d still be safe!”
Of course, while Engvall was safe, another hopeful wasn't as lucky. "Pretty Little Liars" star Brant Daugherty bid the ballroom a teary-eyed farewell Monday.
Unlike Engvall and Slater, Daugherty and pro Peta Murgatroyd often drew high marks from the judges. But this time, even a 27-point foxtrot couldn't save them.
“It could always be anybody going home,” Daugherty said. “We knew that starting out. We knew that every week it could be us going home and now, here we are. I’m not going to say I’m not sad, but I’m grateful for this opportunity."
Looking back, he doesn't really blame his ouster on a lack of rehearsal time due to his busy schedule. He knows the ultimate reason he's out.
“We got a 27 out of 30," he said. "I don’t know what any more points would have done for us. It’s the viewers that send people home. We had the lowest votes this week."
But he's still thankful for all of the viewers who did vote for it.