"Thank you, America, for believing in us," says the soldier-turned-actor

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

After a topsy-turvy season of sore ankles and even sorer losers, Dancing with the Stars ended Tuesday night by pitting an unlikely frontrunner against a heroic survivor.

After Ricki Lake, 43, was eliminated earlier in the show, Rob Kardashian, 24, the reality TV brother often overshadowed by his famous – and infamous – older sisters, went against J.R. Martinez, 28, the soldier-turned-actor whose triumph over severe burns received in Iraq brought raw emotion to the ballroom.

For their final dance, a samba which both couples had to choreograph on the fly, each earned perfect scores, leaving Kardashian with a one point lead after two nights of competition. But the judges’ scores make up only half the final results. Once the viewers’ votes were tabulated, the winner was determined. Keep reading to find out who won:

Smirnoff covered her face and began crying when she heard the news.

“First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who voted for us for 10 weeks,” Martinez said. “Thank you, America, for believing in us.”

Then he addressed his dance partner, telling Karina, “You are amazing, and I’m so grateful I was able to be a part of your first mirror-ball trophy.”

When he was awarded his mirror-ball trophy, Martinez hoisted it high above his head as confetti rained down.

Runner-up Rob Kardashian, who was paired with Cheryl Burke, echoed Martinez’s celebratory sentiments. “I’m super thankful,” he said, after the results were announced. “This is such a crazy experience. I’m definitely not sad. I won in my book.”