Did Akash Vukoti’s speech on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Juniors Choice save him after Adam Rippon’s stingy score? [WATCH]

Akash Vukoti has charmed the judges on “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors,” and he has charmed the studio audience too, as evidenced by his advancement through the competition despite lower scores. But as the competition has heated up he has needed more and more help from the studio audience votes because his judges’ scores haven’t been improving. On Juniors Choice Night he finished way down at the bottom of the leaderboard after his Charleston, but he survived again. Was he helped by the inspiring speech he gave after the judges’ comments? Watch his dance above.

Vukoti, who at age nine is the youngest contestant in the competition, doesn’t have the technique of some of his older rivals like Miles Brown or Mackenzie Ziegler, but he makes up for that with pluck, enthusiasm and charm. He’s just so gosh-darned likable. So the judges praised him for his sense of “fun,” his “intelligence” and his determination while sidestepping any critique of his actual footwork.

But then Vukoti took the mic to thank the judges for their feedback and also dedicate his dance to all the young people watching; he feels he represents the youngest of the young since he’s not only the most junior on “Juniors,” he was also the youngest the first time he competed at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is his claim to fame. That sweet moment was reminiscent of Disney Night, when his competitor Sky Brown gave a pep talk to young girls in the audience.

Vukoti ended up scoring 7s from judges Val Chmerkovskiy and Mandy Moore and a 6 from Adam Rippon — okay Adam, the performance was rough around the edges, but that 6 was just mean. That put him at the bottom of the leaderboard with a score of 20 out of 30, three points worse than the next lowest contestant, but he still survived elimination while Jason Maybaum, who scored five points more than Vukoti, was eliminated instead. Was it the speech that so endeared him to the studio audience or would they have voted for him anyway? And with so much fan support, how far will he be able to advance in the competition? He might want to practice a couple more speeches just in case.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Sunday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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