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'The Biggest Loser': We have both a winner and a record-setter

Michael Ventrella, who holds “The Biggest Loser” title for being the largest player to ever set foot on the ranch, has a new record: Season 9 winner.

The 31-year-old DJ weighed a stunning 526 pounds, and weighed in at Tuesday's finale at a lean, mean 262 pounds. He lost 264 pounds, or 50.19% of his body weight, to claim the $250,000 prize. “I’m in shock, I can't believe it,” said Ventrella. “But then, I still can’t believe that I ran a marathon," he quipped, referring to the last challenge handed down to the four finalists.

Coming in second place was the pink ninja -- Ashley Johnston -- who set a record as the woman who lost the most weight while at the ranch. She began the NBC weight-loss competition at 374 pounds. She lost 183 pounds, or 48.93% of her body weight. Third place went to the loveable Daris George, who arrived at the ranch as an insecure, overweight boy who'd never had a date, never been kissed, and emerged a "man's man" who now has a steady girlfriend. (Presumably, Daris has had that first kiss.) Daris began the competition at 346 pounds and ultimately lost 168 pounds, or 48.55% of his body weight.

The "at home" winner was Koli Palu, who started at 403 pounds and lost 53.35% of his body weight. Koli would have won the title had he nabbed a spot in the final three, which was decided by a fan vote. Fans chose to give the berth to George instead of Koli, who had a tendency to come off as a bit cocky.

Away from center stage, after the confetti rained down on Ventrella and the cameras and reporters swirled for a quote from the new winner, Palu rocked back and forth, tears in his eyes. "I had it all in within my reach," he said, "and I won." He quickly added that he had no regrets, and would not second guess the monthlong period during which he trained for the marathon but only lost a disappointing 13 pounds. Had he lost more during that period, he would have had a better shot at placing in the final two, and walking away with the $250,000. But there is no looking back, he said: "I did everything I could. It was out of my hands, I did everything that I could."

Meanwhile, Shay Sorrells of Newport Beach, a fan favorite from last season, weighed in after an enviable challenge from Subway, one of the show's sponsors. The fast-food chain literally paid Shay to lose weight, to the tune of $1,000 a pound. Sorrells lost 52 pounds. And Subway promptly upped the offer: It will double her $52,000 bounty if she trains for and completes a marathon with Subway spokesman Jared S. Fogle.

Sorrells, looking gorgeous in a floor-length blush gown, said she was surprised by the new Subway offer, and doesn't think she'll have any trouble achieving it. She's currently running six to eight miles at a time, so she is already on her way. Another issue she is grappling with, though, is excess skin. She estimates that she has about 30 pounds worth of it. She does not yet know whether she will go the route of surgery: It's a battle scar, she said, and serves to remind her how far she's come.

Now that we got all the deets out of the way, let's talk about the real important stuff: How everyone looked up close and personal.

Daris looked amazing, slim and trim, and so glad he got rid of that Lyle Lovett 'do. Michael is completely transformed -- obviously -- but the real change is in the brightness in his eyes and the quality of his skin. That said, his skull belt buckle was a fashion don't. Many of the ladies were rocking colorful, one-shouldered sheaths, and Sunshine was among those who were showstoppers.

And I have to admit it: troublemaker Melissa was a sleek bombshell in that red bandage dress, and she's got some great guns. She might even give some competition to hottie Sam, whose biceps were busting out of his short-sleeved shirt. But I would have to give the award for perfectly toned biceps to Lil Momma (Sherry).

Our hometown kid, Stephanie, also looked wonderful. I had to give her a double take -- she has lost so much weigh in her face that she is barely recognizeable.

Also worth noting: That -- whoa! -- plunging neckline on Jillian Michael's gorgeous black dress. More accustomed to running around in kicks, Michaels nonetheless teetered around on impossibly high heels for much of the night. But after the confetti dropped, she kicked them off and went barefoot as she posed for photos and talked to the media. 

-- Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch

Photo credit: Koli, left, Daris and Alison at the start of the finale. At time of publication, pictures of Ventrella were not available. NBC Universal

Comments () | Archives (4)

Congrats to Michael. He looked fantastic. Now I hope he's not like other contestants and let it all go to waste piling back on the lbs.

Poor Koli he did have all in his grasp. But at least he went home with 100K. I was surprised that he had that much to lose. If he's smart he should hire an agent, talk to the producers and start speaking to minority communities about his weight struggle. They need more people of color representing the Biggest Loser. He has the look that can be mistaken for many nationalities. I thought he also had the best guy outfit.

I hate to say it too, but Melissa looked the best out of all the female contestants. Too bad her insides don't match her outside beauty.

My hope is that all the contestants who need to continue to lose weight and those who don't maintain their weight loss and don't fall in the pattern of Biggest Losers contestants in the past and gain most of it back.

Shay should have done much better than 52 pounds, especially considering she had Subway meals provided for her and the incentive of $1,000 per pound lost payoff. That was a great opportunity for her and I don't think she took full advantage of it, and now Subway is going to DOUBLE her money if she runs a marathon??? I'll believe it when I see it.
On the other hand, I was so happy that Michael won the big money and that Koli had to settle for the $100,000. Both Koli and Sam were starting to get on my nerves toward the end and most of America must have thought the same thing since they gave Koli the boot in favor of Daris.
In the end I am very happy for Michael's win. He remained the same sweet, caring, funny guy throughout the entire competition and that makes it all the more great that he won. Good for you Michael!

Kohli should have won I am glad Ness mentioned it he belonged to a minority so because of that he was not (America's favorite)the whole series is about weight loss and on the last episode Daris had gained 2 pounds but America thought he should be there anyway? forget arrogance this show is about weight loss Kohli lost the highest percentage of body fat he IS THE BIGGEST LOSER remember there was one episode where the person with the lowest body fat loss went home without an elimination round if America is going to be the deciding factor then they should decide every week so Kohli got the consolation prize when in fact he lost the highest percentage of body fat gaining weight and still ending up in the final threexxxx and I hope biggest loser never starts a season off like this one sending someone home as soon as they get there they need at least 1 week.

Koli should have won but because he lost the popularity contest he was not given the opportunity. There should be a rule that if you gain weight you are automatically eliminated and your spot given to No. 5. Koli should have had the opportunity to compete for the $250k but at least he got the 100k . Darius was undisciplined and that should not have been rewarded. I hope koli and sam can represent the minority community who is badly in need of role models for weight loss. I do wish everyone well. I look forward to the next season


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