(ABC)– NFL running back Rashad Jennings won the coveted Mirrorball Trophy Tuesday night in the season 24 finale of Dancing with the Stars.
In the two-and-a-half hour star-studded show, three finalists squared off in the last round of the competition: Jennings and his partner Emma Slater; two-time World Series champion David Ross and his partner Lindsay Arnold; and Fifth Harmony star Normani Kordei with her partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
The night kicked off with a rousing opening number, featuring a reunion of all 12 of this season’s couples, along with judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba and Julianne Hough along with hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews.
Everyone from Charo and Mr. T to Heather Morris, Simone Biles and Bonner Bolton made an appearance on the stage, dancing and reminiscing about the season.
It was a spirited evening punctuated with performances from Hailee Steinfeld, TLC, OneRepublic and Lady Antebellum, as well as a preview of ABC’s new adaptation of the global pop-culture phenomenon Dirty Dancing, featuring Nicole Scherzinger and Colt Prattes dancing to “Do You Love Me.”
After all the pomp and circumstance and glitz and glamour, the show got down to brass tacks when the finalists each performed a dance favorite, which was not scored, and then a fusion of dances based on everything they learned over the prior 10 weeks, which was scored for the finals.
David and Lindsay’s dance was a fusion of the foxtrot and salsa and earned praise from Len Goodman who said: “Watching you brings me joy.” Bruno summed up Ross’ place in the finals by saying: “You already are the people’s champion.”
Normani and Val performed a bewitching fusion of an Argentine tango and foxtrot which brought her another perfect score. Bruno called her “a leading lady” while Carrie Ann said, “You were born to win this competition.”
Finally, Rashad and Emma’s fusion of the cha cha and tango brought a score of 39 and in spite of the praise from the judges, it looked at that moment that Normani Kordei was certain to win.
However, in a stunning turn of events, when the finalists took their place on stage in the last 15 minutes of the show, and votes were tallied from last week and last night, it was Normani who took third place.
A gasp could be heard in the audience and judges Carrie Ann and Bruno seemed truly shocked. In spite of the loss, Normani was as demure and gracious as ever and thanked the show saying she was grateful for the experience.
In the end, it was down to David Ross and Rashad Jennings, and Jennings won the season. It was also announced that Jennings will be joining the ensemble of the Dancing with the Stars summer tour.
You can catch the winners Wednesday morning on Good Morning America on ABC.