For weeks, he shimmied and swayed his chiseled body to the salsa, the cha-cha-cha and the tango.
Did it pay off? Sadly, no.
Cuban-born heartthrob William Levy and his partner Cheryl Burke were the first of three finalists eliminated Tuesday night from the Dancing with the Stars two-night finale on ABC.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver was voted the winner of the 14th season of the popular show.
Second place went to Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins.
A crowd favorite -- well, a female crowd favorite from the start of the competition --Levy had entered the final night tied for second place.
"It was a wonderful experience," Levy said after he was the first one eliminated. His 6-year-old son took it hard; the camera captured him in the audience as he burst into tears.
Levy's Twitter followers were also heartbroken: "I can't understand what happened; I know he had the votes," said one follower. "Third place for William Levy? That's crazy!" said another.
Win or lose, the dancing competition introduced Levy, who has a home in Miami, to a wider American audience. Until he joined the show, he was best known for his starring roles in romantic Latin telenovelas on Spanish-language television.
From his first appearance, the Dancing with the Stars live audience was populated by females who screamed when the hunky Levy, 31, danced, sometimes shirtless.
"He's a Latin James Bond," one judge said.
Levy proved to have an inspiring story: During the personality interviews, he told of his family's quest to leave Cuba and their early experiences in Miami as refugees. Audiences saw him tear-up when recalling his hardscrabble life on the island and the joy of making it to the U.S. in the mid 1990s when he was 14.
Levy began his career as a male underwear model and recently revealing photos he posed for have surfaced on the Internet. Levy has explained them away: "I worked as a model and that's what models do."
Week after week, the judges reveled at Levy's transformation from a muscle-bound leading man to a suave and debonair ballroom dancer. Levy said his muscular body put him at a disadvantage.
"It's difficult for me," he said. "You got to work on getting a little bit softer, which is a bit weird, you know, for a guy."
He earned a perfect score of 10s twice in the competition, including one on Monday night.
In an April interview on Nightline, Levy, who has two sons with actress Elizabeth Gutierrez, had said he was in the completion solely for the experience.
"I never came trying to beat anybody," Levy said. "I never came trying to win it all. You know, I just came and I said to myself that I was going to give myself to this 100 percent and enjoy it ... I never expect to win it all."
By the final days of competition, Levy had changed his mind: "I really want to win," he said Monday night.
But Driver's combination of judges' scores and viewer votes led to his victory.
Levy said he has been dancing for years, but he didn't learn to dance professionally until he appeared on Dancing with the Stars.
He credited his Cuban roots for his hip action, admired by the judges and audience.
"We are very passionate in everything we do," Levy told ABC, referring to his Latin culture. "Through music, we live. Through music, we have fun. Through music, we enjoy our time here because everything else is so hard."
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