In the tense final moments of the star-studded two-hour season finale, Nyle DiMarco and his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd took home the coveted Mirror Ball trophy, adding their names to DWTS history.
When the season began in March
, 12 stars were competing for the title -- including three NFL players, a professional fighter, two news personalities, three TV actresses, a singer, a Broadway legend and a male model.
By the time the finale rolled around, it came down to three couples – Winners DiMarco -- who was also the show's first fully deaf contestant
-- and Murgatroyd,
22-year-old UFC star Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas, 35-year-old GMA
meteorologist Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy.
During Tuesday's finals performance, DiMarco and Murgatroyd delivered a show-stealing cha cha/tango fusion dance set to Calvin Harris' "Summer" that was so full of life and love that it brought many in the audience -- including DiMarco's mom and judge Carrie Ann Inaba -- to tears.
"That was a beautiful way to end the season," Inaba gushed after the stunning routine. "But Nyle, I just want to say something to you. Because you've spoken to us so eloquently in our language of dance, I want to say this to you and I hope I get it right."
Inaba then stood to speak to the 27-year-old model in sign language, which she learned just for him, and signed "Thank you for showing us your beautiful heart when you dance."
The gesture made DiMarco openly cry, and the handsome star found himself wiping away tears with the sleeve of his jacket while smiling appreciatively.
"What you proved is that the only boundaries are ones that we put on ourselves," judge Len Goodman shared. "Listen, you don't get no sympathy vote for me. I just judge on what I see, and I'm telling you, you deserve to be in this final, and you just proved it tonight." The couple ended up getting all 10s for a perfect score of 30 out of 30.
After they were named the winners, DiMarco and Murgatroyd could barely contain their excitement as they were showered in confetti and hugs from their fellow contestants. Host Tom Bergeron spoke with Murgatroyd after the announcement and the 29-year-old DWTS vet gushed over her impressive partner.
"This whole thing has been so incredible because of this man," she explained. "I owe everything to him. He is just incredible."
During the episode, Season 21 winner Bindi Irwin
joined the festivities, and shared some advice with the night's finalists. "I think tonight is a real challenge, but honestly this entire experience is like learning to fly," Bindi said. "So I think that tonight is all about enjoying the last few moments, and having fun with all the sparkles!"