Model/actor Nyle DiMarco won season 22 of “Dancing With the Stars” tonight, beating out UFC fighter Paige VanZant and “GMA” meteorologist Ginger Zee to take the coveted mirror ball trophy.
DiMarco jumped when the results were revealed before being quickly engulfed in hugs from supporters and his pro partner, Peta Murgatroyd.
“This is such an amazing feeling. This whole thing has been so incredible,” she said, adding that it was all because of DiMarco.
Show co-host Tom Bergeron handed the pair the mirror ball trophy, and DiMarco beamed and hugged him.
VanZant came in second, and she told Bergeron that she was happy to have been a part of the show.
“I’m going to remember it forever,” she said.
Zee took third place. She thanked her pro partner for making her a meteorologist who can dance.
“I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to be here ...,” Zee said, adding that she hopes viewers saw her example and realized “that you can be more than one thing.”
The finale started with two performances last night, ending with VanZant leading in judges’ scores, followed by Zee and then DiMarco.
The three each had to perform a third routine tonight – the 24-hour fusion challenge dance – in which they fused two contrasting style of dance into one routine with only a day of preparation. VanZant scored the highest in this round, followed by DiMarco and then Zee.
The judges’ scores and viewer votes from the last week and this week were combined.
The finalists each gave an encore of one of their breakout routines from earlier on in the season, then later delivered their 24-hour fusion challenges.
Ginger Zee: Zee missed a part of the choreography in her Argentine tango/foxtrot with partner Val Chmerkovskiy, but she recovered quickly and the three judges commended her for keeping her composure. Carrie Ann Inaba said Zee was “a beautiful dancer.” Zee earned three 9s, for 27 out of a possible 30 points.
Nyle DiMarco: Judges gave DiMarco three 10s -– for a perfect score of 30 -- for his smooth cha-cha/tango fusion dance with Murgatroyd. Judge Bruno Tonioli said DiMarco, who is deaf, had spoken “so eloquently in our language of dance.” Head judge Len Goodman said DiMarco proved that “the only boundaries are the one we put on ourselves,” and Inaba brought DiMarco to tears when she addressed him in American Sign Language. When Bergeron asked her what she said, she replied: “I said ‘thank you for showing us your beautiful heart when you dance. So thank you.’”
Paige VanZant: VanZant got a perfect 30 for her fusion jive/salsa with pro partner Mark Ballas. Goodman said if the completion were “judged solely on dance, you’re the one to beat.”
The season started in March with 12 celebrities in the running. Weekly eliminations narrowed the field to the final three.
Zee, 35, started out moderately strong and continued to blossom, going on to win frequent praise from the three judges for her dance ability as well as her dance floor charisma. Zee earned the first perfect score of the season. During rehearsals last week Zee, a new mother, injured her pelvis but was able to perform all her routines despite feeling pain.
VanZant, 22, had dance training as a child and it showed in her technique and high-scoring performances, but judges have praised her throughout the season for allowing her vulnerability to show, telling her she has only continued to improve.
DiMarco, 27, became an early fan favorite. Despite being deaf and unable to either hear music or feel its vibrations, the “America’s Next Top Model” winner wowed the judges with his eloquent delivery and continuously improving technical skill.
Tonight’s finale featured live performances from Pitbull, Fifth Harmony, Aloe Blacc, Dan + Shay and Fleur East. Eight of the nine stars who were eliminated throughout the season – Wanya Morris, Antonio Brown, Von Miller, Marla Maples, Kim Fields, Jodie Sweetin, Doug Flutie and Geraldo Rivera – returned to the ballroom to perform during the two-hour show.
Chmerkovskiy and his “Dancing” pro alum brother, Maks, also offered a preview of their upcoming dance tour, “Maks and Val Live on Tour: Our Way.”