A new season of The Biggest Loser kicked off Tuesday night, marking the beginning of the ninth season of the popular weight loss show. As usual, producers on the show continue to raise the bar and this season features not only the heaviest starting cast of 22 contestants, but it also features the single heaviest contestant ever – 6ft 3in, 526-pound Michael Ventrella from Chicago.
This season is another “couples” theme and includes 8 parent/child pairings in addition to cousins, siblings and spouses. Michael, a 30-year-old DJ, is competing as the white team with his mother Maria Ventrella, 51, who begins the show weighing in at 281 pounds.
UPDATE – Michael won! CLICK HERE to see his amazing before-and-after photos side by side!
“I would do anything for Michael,” Maria tells People magazine. “At first I didn’t think I could do it because I have too many responsibilities at home. I have a husband who is disabled, my mom in a wheelchair, a full-time job, home cleaning — it’s a lot. But then he needed it so bad and so I am here, and I need it for myself, too!”
Here are Michael and Maria in a preview clip from NBC.com:
And here is the couple’s first weigh in, which for the first time in the history of TBL takes place in the contestants’ hometowns:
Here is the couple’s official bio and background:
Growing up around his father’s band, Michael was inspired by music and became a mobile deejay at the very young age of 11. This exposure to large crowds allowed him to feel comfortable as the center of attention. Starting at a young age, Michael has always struggled with his weight. In recent years he has tried everything he could to lose weight, including dangerous over-the-counter and prescription pills, trendy diet plans, expensive nutritionists, starvation and, at his most desperate attempts, forcing himself to be bulimic. Michael’s biggest goals are to pursue a career in advertising and public relations, and to eventually meet the love of his life and start a family.
The Team: Both Maria and Michael are proud to be 100% Italian-American. Unfortunately, most of the food they cook and eat is not the healthiest. Maria and Michael agree that with the help of The Biggest Loser they can find ways to substitute old world unhealthy ingredients with modern healthy alternatives. This mother/son team hopes to set an example, and send out a message to all Italian-Americans, that keeping your traditions and culture alive does not necessarily mean carrying on old, bad habits.
More pictures of Michael Ventrell and mom Maria from NBC.com:
UPDATE – Michael lost 34 pounds in week one and Maria lost 13 for a total team weight loss percentage of 5.82%. 34 POUNDS IN ONE WEEK! That was the most weight ever lost by a contestant in a single week and it was more than enough to keep them from falling below the yellow line!
Be sure to check out America’s Biggest Loser at NBC.com to see additional video clips, photos and bios of all the contestants!