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‘Dancing with the Stars’ champ Nyle DiMarco opens up about win, unique story

Nyle DiMarco,

Nyle DiMarco, "Dancing with the Stars" champion. Credit: ABC / Byron Cohen

Newly crowned “Dancing with the Stars” champion Nyle DiMarco, who won the show’s 22nd season with ballroom professional Peta Murgatroyd, said Wednesday he only slowly built confidence that a hearing-impaired person could dance at the show’s level.

“The first week, it was really difficult,” the deaf model told Kelly Ripa and singer Seal on “Live with Kelly,” using American Sign Language and an interpreter. “I was really nervous. But after we got past that point I just had more confidence and we just built that every week, week by week, and we just got more creative with our dance and how to bring our story into our dance. Our story is unique and I think we really deserve it,” he said of the win.

Earlier on Wednesday he told “Good Morning America” that, “Obviously, there is a really strong relationship between sound and music. You have to think, ‘Can a deaf person really dance to the music as perfectly as we did?’ . . . I didn’t know if we were even going to be able to do that,” DiMarco said. “We really just took it week by week and worked hard and just made it work.”

DiMarco said on “Live” that he was happy to be “inspiring the 70 million deaf people in this world, and that really coincides with my Foundation,” which he initiated in April to help the hearing-impaired, particularly with access to sign-language education. “I really think we can change the lives of deaf people,” he said.

On “GMA,” he additionally praised “DWTS” judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who used sign language to speak with him on the “DWTS” finale.

“It was really very touching,” DiMarco said, “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.”

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