EXCLUSIVE: 'DWTS' Champion Laurie Hernandez Says Winning a Mirror Ball Trophy 'Almost Feels the Same' as Receiving a Gold Medal

Desiree Murphy
Entertainment Tonight

Laurie Hernandez can't stop smiling, and we can't blame her!

The 16-year-old gymnast, who was crowned Dancing With the Stars' season 23 champion during the two-hour finals Tuesday night, was still beaming with joy while chatting with ET at The Grove following her win.

WATCH: 'DWTS' Finalists Share Stories From 'Stressful' Last Week of Rehearsals, What They'll Miss Most

"I'm just so excited I was able to have this opportunity," Hernandez, who was paired with dance pro Val Chmerkovskiy, told ET's Cameron Mathison. "Even beyond the show, I just feel like I really sprouted as a person and I've surrounded myself with so many amazing people that I can now call family so, that's cool."

Hernandez continued to gush over her time on the show, and even compared winning a mirror ball trophy to winning a gold medal.

"It almost feels the same," she explained. "I mean, it's like once you figure out that you've, you know, won something, for you, it's like a wave hits you. It was such an amazing experience, and I'm glad I was able to come here and witness it and be a part of this amazing journey."

As for where she wants to put her shiny new trophy? Well, the New Jersey native already has some ideas.

"Probably like in the middle of my house, as long as my mom's OK with it!" she exclaimed.

ET also caught up with Chmerkovskiy following the finale, who was ecstatic to learn that his time with Hernandez hasn't come to an end just yet. It was revealed on the show that she'll be joining him on the Dancing With the Stars: Live! tour, which kicks off Dec. 16 in Reno, Nevada.

"I get a chance to call Laurie Hernandez a friend of mine for a long time, and I'm going to be rooting for her for a really long time," he said.

WATCH: 'Dancing With the Stars' Crowns Its Season 23 Champion, Laurie Hernandez!

Hernandez chimed in, telling ET, "Yes! I still get to dance, and this show also made me realize how much I love dancing, so I'm glad I get to do more of it."

To hear more highlights from the two-night finals, which placed James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess in second and Calvin Johnson and Lindsay Arnold in third, watch the video below.

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