With only eight contestants still competing on “The Biggest Loser,” the stakes are higher than ever. So when host Alison Sweeney appeared in the players’ kitchen one morning during Week 14, the group knew they were in for a new temptation.
“This kitchen is closed,” Alison told the group, explaining that all meals that day would come from a buffet set up in another room. The choices would include healthy dishes like vegetables, fruit and lean meats, but also such fattening fare as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, chicken wings, cupcakes, cookies and candy.
“Not only do you have to worry about what you eat,” Alison told the contestants, “you also have to worry about what everyone else eats.” The player who consumed the most calories from the buffet by the end of the day would win the right to cast the only vote after the end-of-the-week weigh-in. No one else would have the chance to vote on the elimination; the winner would have complete control over who went home.
Cousins Koli and Sam decided that one of them needed to win the temptation and control the vote to keep Sam — who has lost 123 pounds over the three months on campus — in the game. Unlike other players who still have a lot of weight to lose, newly trim Sam is having trouble dropping huge numbers on the scale. Koli vowed to do whatever it took to win the temptation and ensure Sam’s future in the game — and he did it by downing a whopping 4,164 calories in three meals. The nearest competitor, Daris, ate only 1,556 calories all day.
For the week’s challenge, the players were asked to stack blocks to build a tower that would allow them to climb up and retrieve their flag. The player who grabbed their pennant first would win a 1-pound advantage at the week’s weigh-in. The last player to finish would earn a 1-pound disadvantage, which at this stage of the game could easily sink someone below the yellow line.
Not long after Daris reached his flag and won the challenge, disaster struck. O’Neal, 51, the oldest competitor still playing the game, fell from his block tower and landed on his bad left knee. The competition was paused as the medics sent for an ambulance to take O’Neal to the hospital.
The next day, a limping O’Neal, was permitted back in the game wearing a knee brace. He had fortunately not broken or torn anything. However, because he had not finished the challenge, he was given the 1-pound disadvantage at the week’s weigh-in.
But the postal worker from Minneapolis, Minn., hadn’t heard the worst news yet. Not long after his return to the ranch, O’Neal was notified that his older brother Arthur had lost his battle with cancer and passed away. “I never got a chance to say goodbye,” a tearful O’Neal said. Trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels worried that his emotional upheaval, combined with his hurt leg, would put him out of the game.
But at the weigh-in O’Neal surprised everyone by dropping 8 pounds after what he called “one of the worst weeks of his life.” Other players also continued to drop big numbers: Koli, despite his 4,000-calorie feast, lost 10 pounds, Daris shed 7 and Sam dropped 6 pounds. But two women — O’Neal’s daughter Sunshine and Vicky — each dropped just 1 pound.
Koli, who won the right to determine who would go home, eliminated Vicky, who he felt wasn’t giving her all at the gym.