“It felt amazing,” Hernandez said of the win. It’s been a big year for the Olympic gymnast, with her DWTS victory and medal-winning stint at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. “There was a lot that went on, but I’m so grateful.”
Hernandez, 16, and Chmerkovskiy, 30, were crowned the season 23 Mirrorball Trophy winner on night two of the ABC reality dancing competition series’ finale — an episode that saw Chmerkovskiy shed a few tears.
“It was the ugliest cry … the new Michael Jordan meme,” he joked. “But I meant it. [Hernandez is] really special and I wanted to do a good job for her.”
He added: “I think she brings out in me what she brings out in millions of people, is like this beautiful joy and a sense of gratitude. To see that in a young person is very inspiring.”
“I just want to thank everyone for their support and riding along this crazy roller coaster of my life,” Hernandez said after the win. “My goal is just to inspire others as I go on with my journey and thanks for being there for me.”
Chmerkovksiy added, “Thank you so much! To all the kids out there, you don’t have to wait to grow up to change the world. Be great. You’re the future. Thank you so much!”
And, in true Hernandez fashion, the teen celebrated her win with a tasty treat: ice cream.
She was delivered ice cream while talking to press on the red carpet after the show.
“Cookies and cream!” Hernandez told PEOPLE.