Laurie Hernandez Claims DWTS Gold! Olympic Gymnast Vaults to Victory in Season 23
The finale aired live from Los Angeles on Nov. 22
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Tuesday’s DWTS finale
Dancing with the Stars has a new champion to add to its list of winners!
On Tuesday evening, audiences watched Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy, Calvin Johnson and Lindsay Arnold, and James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess compete for the last time on the ballroom dance floor on the season 23 finale of the reality dancing competition series.
But after the trio of dancing duos — the first time in history that all three finalists were professional athletes — gave their final performances in front of judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli, it was Hernandez that took home the winning title, despite all three contestants earning 40/40 for their fusions.
After former NFL player Johnson and his pro partner Arnold took third place, race car driver Hinchliffe and Olympic gymnast Hernandez were the two athletes contending for the victorious title before co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews revealed that Hernandez was the Mirrorball Trophy winner.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support and riding along this crazy roller coaster of my life,” Hernandez said after earning the winning title. “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!”
Runner-up Hinchcliffe said of his time on the ABC series, “It meant the world. I never would have thought at the start of this that Sharna and I would be standing up here finishing second in this competition. Congrats to Laurie and Val. They were tremendous from day one. I’m just proud of her and all the hard work that she put into making me look like I knew how to dance.”
Bergeron then presented the trophy to the new champions, who celebrated with their fellow dancers on the confetti-adorned stage.
But although season 23 has come to a close, this won’t be the last time that fans will watch Hernandez dance! Bergeron revealed during the finale that the 16-year-old Olympian will be joining the DWTS live tour.
“We could have given out three trophies tonight. Everyone was so deserving,” Andrews told PEOPLE, and added, “Laurie was America’s girl and we all saw what she did this summer. She was just adorable in our ballroom.”
Congrats to the season 23 champions!