"I was so close. I was so close," Mame said in tears after discovering she had finished as the runner-up.
America's Next Top Model crowned its first-ever deaf contestant, Nyle DiMarco, champion during Friday night's finale broadcast of the series' 22nd season.
Nyle, a 25-year-old 6'0 1/2" model from Washington, DC, defeated Ghanaian Mame Adjei, a 23-year-old 5'7 1/2" model from Silver Spring, MD, after the Final 2 competed in a final runway show and had their entire bodies of work throughout the season critiqued by Top Model judges Tyra Banks, Kelly Cutrone, Miss J. Alexander and -- for the final panel only -- the contestants' creative consultant Yu Tsai.
"I won! I won! I don't think anything will ever compare to this moment -- ever. Winning right now, it's a really big deal. When I came into this competition, I had little experience and I remember in the beginning I didn't really use my sexiness, but I feel I've become an amazing model. My winning America's Next Top Model was actually a huge step to changing the world's perspective on the deaf community," Nyle said after Tyra announced his victory.
"This proves to me that being deaf doesn't matter. There are so many opportunities out there for the deaf community. Winning this, I can't even describe what it means to me. I feel like this 200,000-pound weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can't even believe this has happened, but I'm 'America's Next Top Model!'"
Tyra told Nyle he won ANTM because he "kicked ass" and he "just so happens to be deaf." She made it clear that his disability did not define Nyle on this show.
For winning Top Model, Nyle walked away with $100,000 from Zappos Couture as well as being the face of their national luxury brand re-launch in 2016, a fashion feature in Nylon, and a modeling contract with Next Management.
In the finale broadcast, Mame and Nyle competed in the final runway show, rocking clothes by fashion designer Rocky Gathercole at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
"I was so close. I was so close," Mame said in tears after discovering she had finished as the runner-up. "This competition has definitely taught me a lot about myself and a lot about how I deal with things not having my parents and not having that support. The fact that my mother was even here to see this moment, I think she finally understands. It's a beautiful thing to have learned to deal with my emotions and let it all come out and just face it."