Rashad Jennings Crowned Dancing with the Stars' Season 24 Champion
Dancing with the Stars has officially crowned its season 24 champion!
Audiences tuned in on Tuesday evening to watch the three remaining contestants — David Ross, Normani Kordei and Rashad Jennings — compete for the coveted Mirrorball Trophy on the second night of a nail-biting two-part finale, and it was Jennings who took home the winning title.
“That’s a very long waiting period to wait to see if you won or not,” Jennings told PEOPLE moments after his win of the long pause cohost Tom Bergeron took before announcing the winner. “I didn’t know what was about to happen. I just knew I had a ball throughout this whole entire show.”
After competing a previous number from earlier in the season, the veteran pro baseball player, Fifth Harmony singer and NFL free agent each performed a 24-hour fusion as their last judged dance of the competition.
Kordei and Val Chmerkovskiy competed second, and were given a perfect 40/40 for their Argentine tango foxtrot fusion. “You’ve made such a challenging and intense journey look like you were born to do it,” Inaba complimented Kordei.
Lastly, Jennings and Emma Slater performed their cha cha tango fusion and were just shy of earning a perfect score; judges awarded them a 39/40 for their last dance.
In the suspenseful final moments of the show, it was revealed that Kordei came in third place in the competition, leaving Ross and Jennings as the two remaining contestants vying for the winning title.
“I am so happy for Rashad. He put in a ton of work – we all did – and I think we all got what we needed out of this experience,” Kordei told PEOPLE after the results. “Everything happened the way it was supposed to.”
But after the judges’ scores were tallied with audiences’ votes from across the United States, it was a surprised Jennings who won the competition.
“I’m shocked and thankful,” Ross told PEOPLE of coming in second. “I felt like I was a winner when they said I was going to the finals. I came out here with no expectations and I think the best dancer won.”
FROM PEN: Andy Cohen’s Top 5 Most Revealing Plead the Fifth Answers
After being presented with his glittery Mirrorball Trophy, Bergeron said to the new winner, “So you never won anything?”
“Yeah, that turned around right now!” Jennings said with a laugh.
Although his time on DWTS has come to an end, Jennings will continue his dancing journey on the upcoming Dancing with the Stars: Live! — Hot Summer Nights tour.
“It’s so fun,” Jennings told PEOPLE of spending the summer traveling the country with his DWTS family. “I get to continue to dance and train for football. When a team calls, I’m ready. Until then, I’m training and dancing — they’ll know I’m in shape.”
And as for the Mirrorball Trophy, he’s already got a home for that: “over the fireplace,” he said with a laugh. “There’s going to be some lights shining on it and it’s going to play every single song we danced to.”