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Laurie Hernandez: I felt the same joy winning 'Dancing with the Stars' mirrorball trophy and my Olympic gold medal

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/23/2016 

Laurie Hernandez has compared winning the Dancing with the Stars mirrorball trophy to earning an Olympic gold medal.

"It felt amazing," Laurie said of her Dancing with the Stars victory during a Wednesday appearance on Good Morning America with Season 23's Final 4 couples. "I had that same joy as I had at the Olympics. It was a touching moment, and yeah, it was exciting."

Laurie added that although "there was a lot that went on" this season, like the sudden death of her grandmother, she's "so grateful" for her experience on the show with pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy.

The bubbly 16-year-old gymnast reiterated how being crowned Dancing with the Stars' latest champion was just as thrilling as winning medals at the Olympics in Rio this past summer in an interview with People.

"I feel like they tie for each other. The Olympics, as a little kid, it was such a big goal that I'd created for myself and I was able to push through and make that happen," Laurie said last night after the show.

"So for the Mirrorball, it was like I've always loved to dance and my passion was dancing as well as gymnastics, so winning the Mirrorball today was insane and amazing."

Val, who cried on several occasions while working with his special partner, said on GMA that Laurie brings out a "beautiful joy and sense of gratitude" in "millions of people."

"Through my life, I do want to inspire others. That's my goal every day, so because of Val, he's taught me that it's a good thing to go out and feel that pressure and have that responsibility to go and inspire others," Laurie, who ate ice cream on the red carpet, explained to the magazine.

"When I was a little kid, I looked up to other people, so I hope that I can inspire little kids."

Laurie will have more of an opportunity to inspire others when she appears on the upcoming "Dancing with the Stars: Live!" tour. Host Tom Bergeron announced during Tuesday night's finale she has joined the lineup of performers.

"I'm definitely going to miss her," Val said last night. "I'm excited that she's going on tour with us and she's going to continue to be a part of the Dancing with the Stars family. We love to have her."

The DWTS tour will travel to 43 cities this winter beginning on December 16 in Reno, NV and ending on February 14, 2017. The cast will also include pro dancers Lindsay Arnold, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burgess, Artem Chigvintsev, Hayley Erbert, Jenna Johnson, Keo Motsepe, Gleb Savchenko and Emma Slater.

Laurie Hernandez/Instagram

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