May 22, 2013 at 10:47 AM ET
Traditionally, the celebrities and pros from "Dancing With the Stars" do interviews immediately after the finale. But runner-up pro Val Chmerkovskiy left the studio Tuesday night right after the live broadcast, passing on doing any post-show talks with the media.
The official word from ABC was that Chmerkovskiy had to go home and pack for his overnight flight to New York City, where he, other finalists and champions Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough were expected to do a round of television interviews. Pickler, Hough and the others were on hand after the show.
Still, reporters in the post-show press line were left to wonder if Chmerkovskiy was avoiding being asked to speculate on whether or not he and Zendaya could have been the victors on Tuesday, had the usual online voting option at ABC.com worked after Monday’s performance show.
“It’s really unfortunate,” pro Sharna Burgess, former partner of Andy Dick, told TODAY.com. “That’s how a lot of international people vote. That changes things quite a bit.”
Burgess noted that younger viewers (who are arguably more likely in the fan demographic of Disney star Zendaya) tend to vote using the Web.
“Kids are Internet savvy, and they don’t call in or text,” Burgess mused. “Did it play on the results? Of course … but whether it affected (the final result) I don’t know.”
“It’s a little sad,” said Karina Smirnoff, who danced alongside finalist Jacoby Jones. “God works in mysterious ways. We can’t control that. We’ll let the Lord take care of that. All we can control is what we put out on the dance floor."
“It is what it is,” said Olympian Aly Raisman, who, along with pro partner Mark Ballas, came in fourth place. “I’m so happy for Kellie and Derek. The most important thing for me was that I had fun. I got fourth, and that’s okay.”
None of this is to say that Pickler and Hough didn’t earn their win. In fact, many felt that their victory was a done deal after the pair performed their emotion-packed freestyle routine on Monday, arguably one of the top showstoppers in "Dancing" history. The routine not only earned the duo a perfect score of 30, but fans also selected it as the finale encore dance.
“(Winning) all depends on the freestyle,” Cheryl Burke, a two-time champion, explained. “I've experienced losing the competition because of my freestyle, and I've experienced winning it because of the freestyle. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the last nine weeks. It’s all about your final week.”