J.R. Martinez Wins 'Dancing With The Stars' Season 13

Karina Smirnoff and J.R. Martinez celebrate winning 'Dancing with the Stars' Season 13, Nov. 22, 2011 -- ABC

Stand up America, there's a new "Dancing with the Stars" champ to salute.

(SPOILER - this story contains the final results of "DWTS" Season 13.)

PLAY IT NOW: J.R. Martinez Crowned ‘Dancing’ Season 13 Champ

After an emotional - and at times controversial -- season, army veteran and former "All My Children" actor J.R. Martinez bested 11 celebrities to become the newest ballroom champion, alongside his partner and first-time mirrorball champ, professional dancer Karina Smirnoff.

"First and foremost, I want to thank everybody who voted for us for 10 weeks. Thank you America for believing in us," J.R. said.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: They Came, They Danced, They Conquered: ‘Dancing’s’ Mirrorball Winners

Turning to Karina, J.R. praised the woman who took him to the big win.

"You are amazing, and I'm so grateful that I was able to be part of your first mirrorball trophy," he said as she gave him a kiss on the cheek.

AH Nation Poll: Did the right celebrity win "Dancing with the Stars"? Click HERE to vote!

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Scenes From The ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Season 13 Finals

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke landed in second place, while Ricki Lake and Derek Hough were shockingly eliminated in the first round on Tuesday night's show, even after they won 30 additional judges' points -- and the leaderboard top spot -- in the program's first hour.

"I've loved basically every minute of this.... I've done something that I really didn't think I could do and for someone who is a middle-aged mom, I hope I made my children proud, my fiance and my family," Ricki, who lost more than 20 pounds while competing on the show, told show co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: ‘Dancing’ Contestant & Soap Star J.R. Martinez Over The Years

With Ricki out, it was J.R. and Rob who were the two remaining celebs who danced an instant number with their partners for the final judges points.

Each actually earned perfect scores, but when combined with the viewers' votes (which accounted for half of their final tally), J.R. landed on top.

It was an emotional win for the military veteran who, throughout the course of the season, shared his dramatic life story and his unbreakable spirit as he competed for the leaderboard top spot week after week, often battling it out with Ricki and Derek.

Going into the competition, the 28-year-old thought he was the least known of a pack of celebrities that included Lakers star Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest), former "The Hills" beauty Kristin Cavallari, style guru Carson Kressley, transgender activist Chaz Bono and returning talk show host Ricki.

But, as J.R.'s dancing skills improved, his support network grew as fans tuned in to see his impressive ballroom feats.

And they also learned about his journey before "Dancing," including how, at the tender age of 19, J.R. joined the military.

His life changed in 2003, when as a United States Army infantryman deployed in Iraq, the truck he was driving hit a land mine and the subsequent explosion resulted in burns over 40 percent of his body.

One place untouched by the explosion was where his watch covered his left wrist and he told Access Hollywood earlier in the season, as he rehearsed with Karina, that he got a tattoo of that watch to remind him of how he changed his life after the incident.

"It was April 5, 2003 at 2:30 in the afternoon that my life changed forever and it didn't change in a tragic way, it changed in a beautiful way because I made a choice to change it... and go down that road that was open to me, and here I am today," he said.

Now, today means a mirrorball win for J.R., adding to an incredible year that also includes being named one of People's Sexiest Men of The Year.

And he couldn't be happier.

Hoisting the mirrorball up at the conclusion of Tuesday's show, J.R. was grinning from ear to ear.

"DWTS" returns to ABC for Season 14 on March 19, 2012.

Copyright 2011 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.