We have a winner!
“It’s unbelievable,” Rycroft told PEOPLE after the show. “I don’t know why we kept underestimating ourselves. I don’t know why we kept thinking, ‘It’s not us, it’s not us.’ And it was us.”
Dovolani, who’s never won in 14 previous seasons on the show, was elated on a night when his reasons for celebrating extended far beyond the DWTS ballroom.
“What an incredible moment. … Fourteen seasons were worth every bit of waiting for this wonderful woman to show up in my life again and give me this incredible journey on a night that my wife and I got married 13 years ago. Tonight is our anniversary,” said Dovolani, who is Albanian. “Melissa has affected not just me but an entire nation of Albanians that are celebrating the 100th year of independence.”
Rycroft, who placed third with Dovolani in season 8, attributed their success this time around to the viewers.
“We appreciate this moment so much. We had felt the fans’ support this entire season and they got this trophy for us,” she said. “We went up against powerhouses and this is from the fans.”
And her partner also thanked voters for pushing them ahead of fellow finalists, Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough and Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy.
“This is to all you guys, the fans,” Dovolani said. “Thank you so much for giving us this incredible ride.”
Hough and Johnson, who’ve both won seasons before but not together, were cordial and supportive runners-up.
“I know how much this means to Tony and Melissa to win this tonight,” Hough told PEOPLE. “The fact that they did is just amazing. I’m so proud of them, and it’s awesome. Tony’s had some tough seasons, for sure. If anybody deserves some redemption and a lift, it’s him. And I’m really proud of him.”