1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Rick Chopin
Chris Haston  /  AP
Erik Chopin went to a weight-loss ranch in California to film "The Biggest Loser" with 49 other contestants. On the finale earlier this week, he weighed in at 193 pounds to win the title and the $250,000 grand prize.
updated 12/15/2006 4:08:40 PM ET 2006-12-15T21:08:40

Erik Chopin, who dropped 214 pounds to win NBC's "The Biggest Loser," was prepared to undergo surgery to slim down before he was chosen for the weight-loss competition.

"That's how hopeless I felt," Chopin, a family man and deli owner from West Islip, N.Y., told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. "I felt like I needed to go for the surgery but, really, I'm so glad I didn't. ... I knew the whole time, I honestly knew, I was copping out, I was quitting."

He added: "Now, there's no stopping me."

Chopin, who weighed 407 pounds at the start of "The Biggest Loser," said he had considered gastric band surgery to shrink his stomach.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Instead, he went to a weight-loss ranch in California to film the reality show with 49 other contestants. On the finale earlier this week, he weighed in at 193 pounds to win the title and the $250,000 grand prize.

"It's surreal. I'm on top of the world," he told the AP. "It was such a long journey, probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. But it's just so rewarding. I'm getting paid now for something I needed to do. You know, I needed to get healthy."

Chopin, 36, was diagnosed with diabetes and other obesity-related problems while on "The Bigger Loser."

"Everything fits great and I'm comfortable and I need to stay right here," he said.

Chopin said he'll continue to run Emma's Delicatessen and will use his prize money to "pay some bills" — and maybe get a new car. Another plan is a long-delayed trip to Disneyworld with his wife and two daughters.

"I see a big guy somewhere and in my mind I'm not critical of him," he said. "I'm more like, ‘I need to help this person.' I like to help them, because I know what it's like and how awful it feels to be obese. And I was morbidly obese."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: 'Biggest Loser' winner

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

    Duchess Kate, Prince William at Commonwealth Games: See their 5 best faces

    7/28/2014 9:54:10 PM +00:00 2014-07-28T21:54:10
  1. Dozens hurt by strikes near Gaza hospital, refugee camp

    The attack caused some damage to the outpatient clinic, leaving numerous dead and dozens more wounded according to witnesses including an NBC News crew on the ground in the area.

    7/28/2014 2:40:10 PM +00:00 2014-07-28T14:40:10
  1. Cheap beauty products: Best summer makeup for under $12

    Don't believe anyone who says you have to spend big on beauty. Some of summer's best finds ring up for less a double-scoop of chocolate swirl.

    7/28/2014 5:24:26 PM +00:00 2014-07-28T17:24:26
  1. AFP - Getty Images file

    Catherine Zeta-Jones: ‘I was a mess’ about Michael Douglas’ cancer

    7/28/2014 7:08:04 PM +00:00 2014-07-28T19:08:04