Lauren Froderman Lauren Froderman

Moments before they were called on stage for the announcement of the big winner, the last two So You Think You Can Dance contestants, Lauren Froderman and Kent Boyd, gave each other reasons why the other would win. Says Froderman, "I told him that he would win because he came from someplace so small [Wapakoneta, Ohio] and he's accomplished so much." And what did the Ohio country boy say to the Phoenix cheerleader? "He told me I would win because I worked my butt off."

In the end, it was Froderman, a bubbly, 18-year-old contemporary jazz specialist, who walked off with the title, America's Favorite Dancer, a $250,000 paycheck, and the pleasure of knowing that she will be the new face of Gatorade. "I'm so delighted that she won, because I actually thought that Kent might," admits host Cat Deeley moments after the show, "purely because of all the screams he gets when he goes out there. But I love the fact that girls are voting for girls, and women are voting for women. She is strong, athletic, technically brilliant, and funny as all hell. She's completely kooky bonkers — she rides imaginary horses off the stage. I'm 33, and I kind of want to be her."

But like anyone who has just completed a punishing 10-week marathon, Froderman's immediate fantasies involve sleeping and taking ice baths to soothe her battered legs. "When I did my 'My Chick Bad' dance tonight [a hip hop routine with tWitch], I thought I was going to just fall over because it's so low and down to the ground," she says. "I thought, 'My legs are just giving up on me.'"

So she'll get a few days rest before jumping into rehearsals for the 40-city national tour, which begins September 19 in New Orleans. "I think Lauren won because she had a phenomenal finale," says former SYTYCD judge and ballroom specialist Mary Murphy. "She was under the radar and then, bam!, she just hit you in the end with her consistency and fluidity of movement."

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