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Laurie Hernandez Wins 23rd Season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez won the Mirror Ball last night, as she was crowned the champion of the 23rd season of ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’.

Hernandez (Old Bridge, NJ) teamed up with Val Chmerkovskiy to topple Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe and retired NFL wide receiver Calvin Johnson in the finals to win the competition.

The duo posted more perfect scores than any couple in the competition, including the first one of the season, and one in the final round, showing how dominant they were throughout.

While she was the favorite the moment the show’s rosters were announced, especially due to her very dance centered routines, Hernandez did have to push through some obstacles. She had to compete the day after her grandmother passed away, but she pushed through and brought home a tear-filled performance to move onto the next round. Hinchcliffe also came through in recent weeks, and emerged as such a viable threat, that show judge Julianne Hough referred to him as the ““best male celebrity to ever dance on the show”.

However, Hernandez iced the crown on her final dance, securing her place among the show’s elite. It caps a whirlwind few months for the gymnast, who won a gold medal in the all-round team competition, as well as a silver in the balance beam individually.

“The Olympics, as a little kid, it was such a big goal that I created for myself and I was able to push through and make that happen,” Hernandez said, according to USA Today when asked to compare her Olympic gold medal moment and her dancing victory. “I’ve always loved to dance and my passion was dancing as well as gymnastics, so winning the Mirror Ball today was insane and amazing.”

Hernandez becomes the youngest winner of the competition at age 16, beating fellow gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, who won the competition at age 17 in 2009. She also becomes the fifth Olympian to ever win, joining Johnson, Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno, and Meryl Davis.


On top of all of that, Hernandez can finally say that the toppled Final Five teammate Aly Raisman. After Raisman, along with Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, edged Hernandez out of selection for the all-around competition in Rio, Hernandez flipped the table, posting a better finish than Raisman’s fourth place finish in season 16.

Raisman was among the many friends and former teammates who sent out their congratulations via Twitter, saying she was “so proud.”

It was announced on the show that Hernandez will join a ‘Dancing with the Stars’ tour, showcasing her talents around the country for a limited time. This news is coming just on the heels of the Kellog’s Tour of Champions ending in Boston about a week ago. Her book, “I Got This”, is also being released January 24th, adding to her impressive resume.

It isn’t obvious when Hernandez will return to elite gymnastic competition, but after turning professional shortly before the Olympics this year, it’s likely that she returns for the AT&T American Cup on March 4 in Newark, New Jersey.

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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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