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Pre-Teen Ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer on Her Epic America's Got Talent Win: 'I Can't Even Explain It!'

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America’s Got Talent has a new champion — and she’s as adorable as could be.

After 52 million votes were cast, the 12-year-old singing ventriloquist was crowned the winner of season 12, beating out a variety of contestants from comedians, dance troupes, powerhouse vocalists and even dog trainers to become the second ventriloquist to win the NBC reality competition show.

PEOPLE caught up with the star on the red carpet after her epic — and emotional! — win, and she was pretty much speechless.

“You know, I can’t even explain it,” she said. “I was so overcome with joy and happiness and shock. Just seeing my friends and family, and the judges came up and gave me great big hugs. I felt so much joy and happiness and my crying pretty much explained it all.”

Trae Patton/NBC

The pre-teen ventriloquist also shared how her life has changed since starting the competition.

“Being on America’s Got Talent has really helped me expand my self-confidence on the stage and anywhere — I’m more comfortable and it’s just really helped and I’m glad about that,” she said. “My life is probably going to change drastically but positively. I’m so happy and I’m so excited to see what’s in store for me!”

“My journey was so fantastic,” she added. “Everyone here is so kind and so amazing and everybody here helped me win.”

The final two included Farmer and 10-year-old singing prodigy Angelica Hale. The two girls became fast friends, their support for each other unwavering throughout the competition.

“It means so much to me that she’s supporting me all the way,” Farmer said. “It was so, so hard to be up there with her, especially since we’ve become so close. I mean, we were just crying on each other and it was just so much fun. The contestants, everyone here, they’ve been so nice to me. All of them had predicted that I would win. I would get so mad at them for doing that, but I guess their predictions were right!”

Trae Patton/NBC
Trae Patton/NBC

As for her rabbit puppet Petunia?

“Petunia is so excited, but she’s so exhausted,” Farmer said. “She demanded a nap.”

RELATED VIDEO: Ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer, 12, Breaks into Sobs as She’s Crowned Champion of America’s Got Talent

 

PEOPLE also caught up with judges Heidi Klum, Mel B, Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel on the red carpet.

“I predicted that she would win, but you never know quite how it’s going to turn out,” said Mel B, who chose Farmer as the recipient of the coveted Golden Buzzer during the audition process, sending the ventriloquist straight to the live shows.

“At the end of the day, America chooses and they agreed with me,” she added. “I’m so happy, of course I am!”

“I had a sneaking suspicion that it was going to be her,” Klum said. “It was so hard at the end to see the two little girls standing up there. You’re this close to a million dollars. Then they said Darcy’s name, and the tears were coming. She was crying for an hour afterwards. Also, little Angelica — I love her so much. I hope that Simon is going to give her a contract and make her into a superstar. She’s so amazing.”

Mandel told PEOPLE the caliber of talent this year was particularly impressive.

“As a whole, the level of talent, the level of heart and the level of drama that was involved in this show — that was surprising,” he said. “Every year you hope it’s better and better and better. This really rose to the occasion and went above it.”

And last but not least, even the notoriously tough Cowell was all smiles at the outcome.

“Oh God, it was emotional — it was exciting,” he said. “It was kind of everything we wanted it to be.”

“I wasn’t surprised, but some friends of mine were in the audience and saw the two girls standing there,” he said. “Half said Angelica [would win], half said Darci. So it could have gone either way, but they deserved it. They’re both incredibly talented, really great kids. I have no idea what they must be feeling right now!”