8:26pm PT by Natalie Stone
'Dancing With the Stars' Awards Season 21 Winner
Dancing With the Stars awarded its season 21 winner with the coveted Mirrorball Trophy on Tuesday night.
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.