Amber Riley seemed to be walking on air instead of feeling her aching knees after winning the “Dancing with the Stars” mirror ball trophy on Tuesday night.
The “Glee” star who battled injury during Season 17 told reporters backstage after the show, “I feel amazing! I’m so excited. I’m very proud of myself. I can’t believe—well, I guess I can believe–I endured ‘til the end. I worked really really hard so I’m really happy.”
When asked where she’d put her trophy, Amber yelled, “It’s going to be the centerpiece of Thanksgiving! No turkey!”
All joking aside, after the grueling 11-week “DWTS” season, Amber said she was “looking forward to sleep because I have not slept in two months.”
The actress, who also made her pro partner Derek Hough an incredible FIVE-time “DWTS” winner on Tuesday night, admitted, “There was a point I realized that I really wanted to win, and that point was maybe the last time I got my knees lubed up with the needles.”
In addition to getting painful knee injections, Amber spent the last part of the season with one knee wrapped up during her dances.
But it was all worth it and Amber told xfinityTV she was shocked that she bested second and third place finishers Corbin Bleu and Jack Osbourne.
“There were so many different people that deserved to win. But it was America’s vote and they voted for me and I really appreciate it. People were really encouraging,” she said.
Amber, who talked about being a “big girl” on the show, told reporters her body has changed from “DWTS.” “I feel a lot stronger. I have muscles and aches in places I didn’t know existed. My clothes definitely fit differently. My energy is better.”
She said of her talented dance partner, “Derek pays attention to detail but he doesn’t let you rest on your laurels. He makes you bring the best out of yourself and that’s the mark of a great teacher.”
After celebrating by lying in a pile of confetti backstage, Derek jokingly told reporters where he was going to put his fifth mirror ball trophy: “I’m building a house right now, so I’m going to have to call the contractor and be like, ‘Oop, add another shelf!’”
He told xfinityTV before leaving the ballroom “it’s too early to tell right now” about coming back for Season 18.
Meanwhile, second-place finisher Corbin Bleu was sad to appear without partner Karina Smirnoff on the press line because she had a “family emergency,” he said.
“It’s not my place to talk about it, but she’s with her family right now. The timing was terrible. We literally found out as we were getting ready to figure out where we were standing in our position” to get the finale results, Corbin explained.
Turning to the show’s outcome, the “High School Musical” star who wowed fans with his Michael Jackson freestyle homage on Monday night said, “Honestly, I’m great. From the beginning of the day, I’ve been in this sort of ethereal state and I got a chance to go out here and do exactly what I love doing every single day. Karina and I pulled it off time after time. I’m so happy for Amber. She’s grown so much and she deserves it.”
Corbin said when he performed his final dance, “I wasn’t doing it for the competition anymore. I was almost over it, [I wanted] to just dance and have fun.”
The TV actor said he’d achieved his goal to make it to the end, “to be able to be here every single week. I’m more than satisfied.”
Meanwhile, Jack Osbourne, who finished third, expressed similar sentiments with partner Cheryl Burke by his side. “I’m beyond happy, the fact that I made it this far. For me, third is winning,” Jack said.
“I love that Amber won. Amber every week has lit up the ballroom and I know she’s clearly been as entertaining to people at home as it has been week after week here watching her slay it.”
Jack also was pleased to have equaled the finish of his sister Kelly Osbourne, who was third in 2009.
“The first thing I thought was wow, Kelly and I are even!” he smiled.
When asked if he’d continue dancing, Jack joked, “I’m available to rent out—bar mitzvahs, bachelorette parties.”
But then he added, “I don’t know. Probably not!”