After a live opening at the holiday-adorned L.A. Grove and a dance from each celebrity-pro pairing, hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews announced the champions at the wrap of the season finale.
Professional dancer Derek Hough and "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin's daughter/Australian actress/wildlife conservationist, Bindi Irwin, took home the trophy in front of a live audience on the ABC dancing competition's ballroom floor. The pair performed a 24-hour fusion challenge, which judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli awarded with a score of 30/30.
“Thank you so much for everything. I can’t believe that I’m here,” said Irwin. “Thank you for changing my life.”
It was a close battle between Irwin and the team of pro dancer Sharna Burgess and former Backstreet Boys frontman Nick Carter, who came in second place and earned a 30/30 for his 24-hour fusion performance.
"This experience was a bonding experience. It was something that I will always remember," said Carter, adding, “Bindi deserved it. She kicked butt.”
Army National Guardsman/train hero Alek Skarlatos and pro partner Lindsay Arnold came in third place after scoring a 27/30 for their rumba/tango. “This has been the craziest ride of my life, and I’ve just had so much fun,” said Skarlatos.
Audiences were entertained during the two-hour finale with performances by Alexander Jean, Andy Grammer, Chaka Khan, Elle King and the Mirrorball Trophy winner himself.