November 23rd, 2011
10:00 AM ET
When ABC announced the celebrity lineup for this season's "Dancing With the Stars," few could have predicted that J.R. Martinez would have made it past the first few weeks, let alone the finals.
After all, the actor and Iraq war veteran didn't have the name recognition that many of his fellow competitors had.
But Martinez quickly won over the viewers and judges with his optimistic attitude, energetic performances and overall passion for the competition. It was those qualities and more that gave Martinez the title of "Dancing With the Stars" champion.
Martinez beat out reality star Rob Kardashian and talk show host Ricki Lake in the 13th season finale of the popular ABC show. For Martinez, who suffered severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body while on duty in Iraq back in 2003, the victory showed that, if you put your mind to it, anything is possible.
"In Iraq, what happened to me was something that I didn't want, I didn't predict," Martinez told CNN after the show. "But that's how life is. Some things you want are going to be thrown at you, [and] some things you don't want are going to be thrown at you."
He continued, "You have to be willing to step up to the challenge. You have to maintain a positive attitude, be patient and just fight. If you do those things, good things will come to you and, one day, you too will be able to hold your own personal trophy."
The victory was also bittersweet for Martinez's pro partner, Karina Smirnoff, who captured her first title after 10 seasons on the show.
"At the end of the day we wanted to impress the judges, but we wanted to impress you at home," Martinez said. "Thank you for believing in us as a partnership."
What did you think of last night's finale? Did the right competitor win? And what are your hopes for season 14?
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