By Jake Perlman
September 04, 2014 at 05:18 AM EDT

With no surprise to fans or judges, 18-year-old Ricky Ubeda was named the winner of season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance Wednesday night. EW was the first to talk to Ricky and the judges about his win.

“I am in complete shock,” the Miami native said. “I knew this was possible, but for it to actually happen is unreal… I just graduated high school. I don’t know what my real life is yet. This is real life I guess, and it doesn’t feel like it.”

It may be unreal for him, but it was expected by just about everyone else. “Ricky had won the American audience vote since day one, so it’s no real surprise for me,” executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe said. “Ricky was so far ahead at the beginning of the season, yet he managed to push himself each week, worked hard every single week, and still improved in areas he might not have been good at in the beginning of the season.” (Unfortunately, Lythgoe confirmed that the show has yet to be renewed by Fox. When prompted about the show’s future, he playfully replied, “You’re going to have to ask someone else that question,” but added he hopes the show comes back because it’s “such a wonderful platform for America to appreciate the arts.”)

Mentor Mary Murphy agreed: “I don’t think he ever took a wrong step basically all season. It’s never usually the best dancer, it’s often the favorite dancer [who wins], but this year it happened to be both all wrapped up into one!”

Being a favorite of both the judges and fans from the beginning, Ricky said it only made him work harder. “There was a lot of pressure from the beginning cause they loved me so much, which I was so grateful for, but I definitely had to push myself harder,” he said. “Every moment I was on that stage was so magical, and I got lost in what I was doing. It was really unforgettable.”

With the title of America’s Favorite Dancer, Ubeda will appear on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine… and of course become $250,000 richer. Next, he’ll go on the 70-city tour with the rest of the top 10 in the fall before a move to New York to join the Broadway cast of On the Town (if he accepts the offer, which he is leaning toward). “Of course there are little things like looking at the contract, but I’m definitely looking forward to taking that and my first big gig off the show,” he said.

But for now, Ubeda is enjoying his step into the limelight. “I took a selfie with Jesse [Tyler Ferguson] kissing me on my cheek after I won, so boom!” And the celeb love keeps coming: “Debbie Allen told me I need to start acting, but I definitely have to work on it cause I’ve never really acted before, but I think I could!”

If we learned one thing at all this summer, it’s that Ricky can do anything.

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
  • TV Show
run date
  • 07/20/05
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