Tyra Banks Returns To ‘ANTM’ For Cycle 23 Finale As Winner Is Announced

America’s Next Top Model’s cycle 23 finale saw the return of the one who started it all — Tyra Banks herself, Entertainment Tonight reports.

At this point, after hosting ANTM for 22 cycles, the 43-year-old Tyra Banks has approached legendary status as a supermodel, multimedia mogul, and entrepreneur. And Banks, rightfully so, knew how to make an entrance when she returned to the long-running show she started many years ago.

It was just a year ago when Banks surprised the show’s fans by announcing that the reality show will cease production after Nyle DiMarco (ANTM’s first deaf winner) wins the top model crown. Before long, Tyra gave fans a pleasant surprise when she announced that America’s Next Top Model will return for cycle 23. This time, however, she was to be replaced by Rita Ora, who will be joined by a new roster of judges, including Paper magazine’s Drew Elliott, celebrity stylist Law Roach, and supermodel Ashley Graham.

As cycle 23 looks to crown the next America’s Next Top Model winner for tonight’s finale, Tyra Banks returns to the show to offer the new judges sage advice.

“I want you to think about who you want to dress,” Banks advised Roach, before turning to Elliott: “Who do you want in the pages of Paper magazine and who do you think all of your competitors want to book?”

Banks didn’t forget to offer suggestions to the show’s two female judges.

“Which of these two girls can put the word ‘super’ in front of ‘model’ nine months from now?” Banks asked Graham before telling Ora, “I look at you to say, ‘Who do you think is more than just a model?'”

America’s Next Top Model cycle 23 had the judges choose between two worthy models — Seattle native India Gants and branded business woman Tatiana Price.

But before the judges could announce Gants as the ANTM cycle 23 winner, Tyra Banks exited the stage, telling them, “I leave it to you four.”

“Peace out. Good luck,” she said as Ora, Elliott, Roach, and Graham begged her to stay.

Tyra Banks’ 22-season tenure as America’s Next Top Model host is an amazing accomplishment, and while she is already off the gig, fans can at least be thankful that she didn’t leave the show early, which was what she had been planning to do when the eighth cycle began in 2007.

Tyra Banks was dead serious about leaving the show back in 2007 that she even had a successor in mind. She even brought her prospective heir apparent to CW for a series of interviews, but her lawyer convinced her to stay on the show for 14 more cycles.

“It’s something that’s been on the tip of my fingers for so long, so it wasn’t necessarily difficult [to let go]. It was actually exciting. I wanted the show to continue; I wanted to keep it new,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “With me creating and owning a significant portion of the show, it’s in my best interests to keep it going and to keep it fresh.”

America’s Next Top Model, as a reality competition show, has come a long way, and a big chunk of the credit goes to Banks for that — after all, she’s the one who started it all. It had its humble beginnings — cycle one featured a cramped closet-sized judging room — but now the show is a worldwide franchise with 20 international editions to its name.

[Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]

And it was all thanks to Tyra Banks’ extensive skill set as an entrepreneur, television personality, project manager, and fashion guru.

“I had mentors telling me in order to expand your production company and have new things, you have to delegate. You create and you move on, so that’s where I am right now with the show is more overseeing in general,” she told EW.

“We’re constantly looking at where the world is and [figuring out] how we can either join it or create new things to stay relevant. It’s more of a responsible thing than a fashionable thing; it’s like responsible business,” Tyra Banks added.

[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images]