"I feel amazing," the speed skater said after learning he'd won the competition, beating out singer Joey Fatone and boxer Laila Ali. "From day 1 I feel like everyone here has been champions."
On Tuesday's finale Ohno and his partner Julianne Hough danced the paso doble before winning the mirror-ball trophy.
"I'm so excited to see Apolo win," judge Carrie Ann Inaba told PEOPLE after the finale. "He took it so seriously. He truly mastered the dances. He was the best technical dancer. Apolo and Julianne brought a whole new energy to the dance floor. You never quite knew what they were going to do."
The couple's surprising moves were shown off Monday during their hip-hop inspired freestyle dance, which included break-dancing. All three judges praised the playful routine by Ohno and Hough, who scored a perfect 30 for the number.
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The night before, the pair got panned by the judges for their overly theatrical version of the cha-cha, but they dazzled the audience with their disco freestyle.
Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who started the evening in third place, ended up in the same position after performing the mambo. When asked about balancing boxing and dancing, Ali said, "I think you can be strong and sexy and beautiful."
But she wasn't so light-hearted after being named second runner-up mid-way through the show. "I'm pissed," she said with a laugh. "Everyone here is a good dancer, it doesn't matter who wins especially because I didn't."
She added,"I had so much fun. I'm happy for whoever wins."
The finale also featured performances from each of the contestants who'd been booted earlier during the season, including Paulina Porizkova, Shandi Finnessey, Leeza Gibbons, Clyde Drexler, Heather Mills, John Ratzenberger, Billy Ray Cyrus and Ian Ziering.