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Monaco's win on 'Dancing' draws high ratings

Wednesday was a big night for ballroom dancing as nearly 22 million viewers tuned in for the finale of ABC's ''Dancing With the Stars," which crowned ''General Hospital" star Kelly Monaco and partner Alec Mazo winners of the dance competition.

The episode brought in 21.8 million viewers, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. In its second half-hour, ''Stars" peaked at 23.5 million viewers. The previous Wednesday's episode averaged 18.6 million viewers, making it the number one show for the week.

The ''General Hospital" star upset the odds-on favorite, John O'Hurley, famous for playing J. Peterman on ''Seinfeld."

Paired with professional dancer Mazo, Monaco, 29, got the lowest mark from the judges in the first competition of the six-episode series.

In week four, she had to rebound again -- her bodice strap snapped, a nearly disastrous ''wardrobe malfunction." But she impressed the audience and the judges by still completing the samba while struggling to hold her scanty green outfit in place.

After a lukewarm reception from the judges during her and her partner's first number Wednesday night, Monaco referred to the mishap, saying: ''I have to lose my top more often."

But Monaco and Mazo's second, freestyle routine went better, winning the show's only perfect score of 30. That, combined with phone-in votes after last week's program, gave them the trophy.

''All my life I've been the underdog," said Monaco after being announced as the winner on the live program. ''I know it's such a sap story, but I have."

Earlier Wednesday night, the finale of ''Beauty and the Geek" was a blockbuster by WB Network standards. The concluding episode of ''Geek" reeled in 4.1 million viewers in the 8 p.m. hour.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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