Chelsie Hightower, Ty Murray

Ty Murray's Cinderella story came to an end on Dancing with the Stars this week after getting booted one week shy of the finale. The bright side? He stayed 10 weeks longer than most expected him to, out-charming, outwitting, but not necessarily out-dancing, his competition. "I think [partner Chelsie Hightower and I] probably brought a bigger fan base than what people expected to start with," he tells TVGuide.com. That fan base unexpectedly propelled them past Lil' Kim — but that didn't surprise them at all. See what else the twosome has to say about their long run, what their finale dance will be and if that rumba solo for Jewel paid dividends.

TVGuide.com: How does it feel not to be rehearsing anymore?

Chelsie Hightower: It's bittersweet. There's definitely a sense of relief that comes with it. It's a lot of work, but it's sad to leave the competition. Ty and I had a bet going on. I bet we were going to stay and he bet we were going to go.
Ty Murray: She hugged me and I whispered in her ear, "You owe me five bucks." She hasn't paid yet! Thank you for bringing it up!

TVGuide.com: You still have to dance in the finale. Which one are you going to do?
Chelsie:
I think we're doing our Lindy Hop. It was a fun one. It's good for him to be more physical with his dancing and more out of his head. He wasn't in his head as much as he was in dances like the rumba or samba or Paso Doble, where you have to think about all these different techniques.

TVGuide.com: Are you going to repeat your rumba solo for Jewel?
Ty:
I'm going to do the rumba for her every night for the rest of our lives. [Laughs] It's definitely paid dividends!

TVGuide.com: You looked really shocked when Lil' Kim left. Were you ready to leave then?
Ty:
Everybody keeps saying we looked shocked, we weren't shocked. We wouldn't have been shocked either way. It wouldn't have shocked me to go any of the nights. To us, it's a coin flip because it's not just a dancing contest. Obviously, Lil' Kim is a way better dancer than me, but America has 50 percent of the say, and we felt like we had a really strong cowboy army behind us. It would've been awkward to celebrate and Lil' Kim is a good friend of ours.

TVGuide.com: There was some criticism that you outstayed Lil' Kim. What do you think the reaction would've been if you had outstayed Gilles, Melissa or Shawn?
Ty:
If it were a dancing contest, they all should be there in the final, but it's not 100 percent a dancing contest. So to have people say, "Do you feel guilty?" I don't feel at all guilty. Why should we feel guilty that we had a bigger fan base? They could vote for whoever they want. They were rooting us, not our dancing.

TVGuide.com: Why do you think you guys struck such a chord with viewers?
Chelsie
: I think Ty really represents what the show is all about — somebody with no training whatsoever in any sort of dancing and is so far out of their element and went in there and gave his heart. Everybody could see that. He was just a normal person, not some celebrity diva who ruled the competition. I think people really relate to him and his charm.

TVGuide.com: Chelsie, how are you going to top Ty as a partner next season?
Chelsie:
I don't know! That's a hard question!
Ty: She can't! [Laughs] She's going to have some baby actor next year and I'm going to be calling her up and laughing!

TVGuide.com: There was some controversy a few weeks ago with Jewel and how she thought injured dancers should dance or drop out. What did you think about that?
Ty:
It came off way different. We were laughing about a bull-rider [hypothetically] saying, "My elbow's sore, so I'm not going to compete this week, but here's some video footage of my practice." We were just putting commentary out on the fact that there wasn't another competition in the world where you can use practice footage. Everybody blew it out of proportion and tried to make it seem like something about Melissa. That wasn't the case at all. It happened the same way with Steve-O. We're great friends with both of them.

TVGuide.com: Ty, I'm trying to start a campaign to get you on as co-host, or at least on the DanceCenter panel. Are you OK with that?
Ty:
[Laughs] It's a fun show. It really is an entertaining, fun show, even if you don't know a thing about dancing. I was glad to be part of it. I was more glad Chelsie was my partner. I really lucked out there.
Chelsie: If they do [DanceCenter] again, they have to have him!

TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Ty:
I have to go back to the ranch and work about 500 head of cattle. Then Jewel and I are going to go on vacation. We want to start a family and we'll see.

TVGuide.com: What about adopting Chelsie?
Ty
: We already have! We're all together right now! It's legal. Chelsie Hightower-Murray. We get her every other week and half the holidays.
Chelsie: I have two sets of parents!

See what else Ty and Chelsie have to say in the video below.