Nyle DiMarco made history Tuesday night as the first deaf contestant to win “Dancing With the Stars.” The actor-model said it was an action by one of the show’s judges that “really touched” him.
“It was really very touching and, you know, she actually took the time to learn sign language and we don’t really see that often in this world, so that really meant a lot to me and it really touched me and it really hit me right at the heart,” DiMarco said today on “Good Morning America.”
DiMarco, 26, beat out UFC fighter Paige VanZant and “GMA” meteorologist Ginger Zee to take home the coveted mirror ball trophy.
“I never dreamed,” DiMarco said of winning "DWTS."
“It’s really a strong relationship between sound and music. You think can a deaf person really dance to the music as perfectly as we did?” he said. “I didn’t know if we were going to be able to do that. We just really took it week by week and worked hard.”
The actor-model and Murgatroyd, now a two-time “DWTS” champion, communicated via a series of signals and cues to keep them in sync while dancing. Murgatroyd would squeeze DiMarco’s hand, for example, to get him to turn around during a routine.
“He is absolutely fearless and I will take that with me for the rest of my life,” Murgatroyd said on “GMA.” “He has taught me so many lessons and made me a better teacher.”
“DWTS” is the second reality-TV competition win for DiMarco, who was also the winner of the final season of “America's Next Top Model.”
J. Alexander, known as Miss J and DiMarco’s runway coach on “ANTM,” surprised DiMarco in Times Square to congratulate him on his “Dancing” win.
Alexander recalled teaching DiMarco how to walk on the runway using his body's movement and added, "there are no handicap barriers anywhere in the world” for DiMarco.
Deafness goes back four generations in DiMarco’s family. Even the champion’s “DWTS” competitors said he is an inspiration well beyond the deaf community.
“This competition is more than just about dancing and Nyle had an incredibly powerful message, I think, not just for the deaf community but for all humanity,” pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy, who placed third with Ginger Zee, said on “GMA.”