Cheryl Burke announces 'DWTS' exit after 26 seasons: 'So many conflicting emotions'

Naledi Ushe
USA TODAY

Cheryl Burke is saying goodbye to "Dancing With the Stars" after 26 seasons.

The pro dancer, 38, confirmed on Instagram Sunday that Monday's Season 31 finale on Disney+ will "officially" be her last.

"I am sitting here full of so many conflicting emotions about the words I am about to write," Burke began her emotional post. "This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life & I am also confident that it is the right one."

The dance pro called cast, crew and fans of "DWTS" her "(second) family since I was 21 years old," adding, "I honestly don’t know who I would be today without them."

Burke made a splash on "DWTS," winning her debut season with 98 Degrees singer Drew Lachey when she joined in 2006 for Season 2. She also took home the mirrorball trophy during Season 3 with NFL alum Emmitt Smith.

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She will take her final dance with Pasha Pashkov and Louis van Amstel. "I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get through it without tears," Burke said in her post.

"Though there aren’t enough words to express my deep gratitude & love to my entire DWTS family I will end with this: thank you for being my rock & foundation for close to two decades during the difficult moments & most of all, thank you for giving ballroom dancing the credit & attention it deserves," she continued. "You have not only brought joy to millions upon millions of viewers every season, you have brought light & so much love into my heart & soul when I’ve needed it most. This has truly been the experience of a lifetime. I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my career, but man will this one be hard to beat! Until next time…Love you all, always & forever xx."

Cheryl Burke is retiring as a pro dancer on "Dancing With the Stars."

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Burke's announcement comes days after Len Goodman, who has ser head judge of the show since its 2005 premiere, announced his retirement after 17 years.

"It has been a huge pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful show," he said. "But I've decided I'd like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain. I could not thank you enough, my 'Dancing With The Stars' family, it's been such a wonderful experience for me." 

Contributing: Elise Brisco, Bill Keveney