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TODAY contributor
updated 5/6/2010 10:41:53 PM ET 2010-05-07T02:41:53

“This is the week I’ve been waiting for!” crowed Sam when host Alison Sweeney arrived at the ranch to announce that week 16 would be makeover week. After four months of wearing nothing but sweats, each player was given $1,000 for a shopping spree and a bit of pampering at a plush salon. For the six contestants remaining — Sam, Koli, Sunshine, Ashley, Daris and Michael, who have lost a combined total of 805 pounds — shopping for clothes suddenly became a lot more fun.

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But what good are makeovers without someone to admire them? “The Biggest Loser” surprised the players by flying in family members to witness the results and enjoy a private performance by pop singer Ashanti.

Ladder challenge
But the fun couldn’t last forever; back on campus, the players were faced with a grueling challenge. A Jacob’s Ladder vertical climber was set up for each of them on a platform 10 feet over a swimming pool. Each contestant was required to keep climbing the revolving ladder as long as possible. The first player to give up and drop into the pool would be penalized with a 1-pound disadvantage; the challenge winner who stayed on longest would receive a 1-pound advantage.

Ashley was the first to plummet into the water, at slightly over the 3-minute mark. As other players dropped out, it became apparent that the winner would be either Daris or Koli, neither of whom was displaying much fatigue. Finally, after a two-and-a-half-hour face-off, Daris gave up, giving Koli the win and the 1-pound advantage.

After witnessing Daris’ surrender in the challenge, Bob took him aside and made him promise not to give up on anything ever again. “You belong in the final four,” Bob told him. “Don’t give up now. Be stronger than ever.”

Impressive losses
The weigh-in proved that even after 16 weeks of competition, the contestants are still able to post impressive weight losses. Michael, Daris and Sunshine each lost 9 pounds apiece. Koli showed a 15-pound drop, while Ashley, despite her 1-pound disadvantage from the ladder challenge, still managed to remain above the yellow line by losing 10 pounds.

But Sam only lost 2 pounds, which put him below the yellow line with Michael. The remaining players, many of whom were tired of the challenge domination of Sam and Koli’s Gray team, sent Sam home.

Still, Sam left with some considerable achievements. He lost a remarkable 136 pounds and became the first player in “Biggest Loser” history to reach his goal weight while still on campus. He also revealed that he had a new lady in his life. His new girlfriend? Stephanie, who competed this season as part of the Purple team.

“I think I was meant to come on ‘The Biggest Loser’ to save my mom’s life, to save my life, and to meet Sam,” Stephanie said. The happy couple are living together in Los Angeles today.

Weigh in: Which contestant’s makeover was the most remarkable?

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