Chicago Man is Biggest "Biggest Loser" Contender Ever

At public weigh-in, Michael Ventrella topped out at 526 pounds

By BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010  |  Updated 10:00 PM EDT
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Searching For Chicago's Biggest Losers

NBC

Michael and Maria Ventrella weighed more than 800 pounds between them.

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Meet Michael & Maria

Chicago mom-and-son duo Michael and Maria share their story of why they wanted to be on "The Biggest Loser."

Chicago Mom, Son Join Biggest Loser

Chicago mother-and-son duo Maria and Michael join the contestants on the ninth season of "The Biggest Loser."
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Of all of the contestants in the nine seasons of NBC's The Biggest Loser, Michael Ventrella is the biggest.

The 30-year-old Chicago deejay, at 526 pounds at the start, is the heaviest contestant ever at the series.  His teammate on the show is his mother, and together they tip the scale at over 800 pounds.

"Every single season, I'm saying that we have the largest contestants we've had, and this season is no different," show trainer Bob Harper said.

The duo auditioned in Chicago and, when chosen, were subjected to a public weigh-in in front of anyone who gathered outside of Marino's Pizzeria and Italian Cafe in Wood Dale.

"When I found out we were going to have to be weighed in public, I felt sick," Michael told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Ventrellas are up against 10 other teams of two in an competition to see who can lose the most weight.  The winner of the 19-week competition wins $250,000 and the "Biggest Loser" title.

Among their competitors:  cousins who weigh a combined 775 pounds and twins who weigh a combined 969 pounds.

Michael realizes that his size makes him an underdog.

"Even if I lost 200 pounds -- an entire overweight person -- I'm gonna still be overweight," he said in the first episode, which aired Tuesday night on NBC.

After only one week on campus, the Vantrellas lost a combined 47 pounds, keeping them in the competition.

Michael said that he hopes his success can motivate others.

"There might be people at home watching who are 450 or 550 pounds and thinking they could never do this, and I'm here to show them that they can," he said.

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NBC.com: The Biggest Loser: Maria

NBC.com: The Biggest Loser: Michael

This year, The Biggest Loser is teaming up with food banks across the country in the "Pound for Pound Challenge."  For every pound of weight loss people pledge, a pound of groceries will go to food banks to help the hungry.  You can join the challenge, too!  Click here to go to the Pound for Pound Challenge Web site, and sign up!

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