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‘Biggest Loser’: Money, motivation — and mud

“The Biggest Loser” usually focuses on physical fitness, but in week 13, the hit series took some time to deal with fiscal fitness instead. The players also found themselves competing in muddy conditions after a rainstorm.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

“The Biggest Loser” usually focuses on physical fitness. But this week, on a double-length episode, the hit series took some time to deal with fiscal fitness instead.

It started with a pop challenge that Alison Sweeney said was “all about change” … as in quarters. In an endurance challenge, the players competed to see how long they could hold up hinged platters with as many quarters on them as they could handle.

Sunshine’s strategy was to put the fewest quarters on her tray at first, then add more weight as others dropped out. It worked well enough to put her in second place, as she held out for more than 50 minutes with 65 quarters, winning $10 per quarter — $650. But Mike, with 100 quarters, held on longer and earned $20 each: $2,000.

A visit from SuzeThe money theme continued as financial author and CNBC host Suze Orman made her second visit to the “Biggest Loser” ranch to offer a financial pep talk to the dieters, most of whom admitted they had nearly as much trouble managing their budget as their weight. Last time, Orman predicted a winner based on credit scores, and her pick, Danny Cahill, turned out to be a record-setting champion. But when Koli confessed to not keeping count of his calories, Suze changed her prediction for this year from him to Sunshine.

Then — speak of the Loser — Danny showed up, looking as good as the day he won, to talk to the current players about overcoming his 526-pound weight and $45,000 debt (and he had the best credit score last year!). Then he joined them for a workout. Daris took pride in keeping up with him on weights, and Andrea got a pep talk while both were on step machines.

The next challenge had the biggest prizes so far this season — brand-new cars for two winners. It also had the worst playing conditions, a rainstorm. “This isn’t drizzle,” Sam declared. “It’s drowning.”

The players plucked keys hanging from balloons, and the only thing lacking from making it a Benjamin Franklin homage was lightning. After describing her current car to Alison as “a go-cart,” Andrea got the first winning key. O’Neal won the second and immediately announced he was giving it to his daughter.

Victoria struggled on treadmill sprints and got a heavy dose of tough love from Jillian Michaels. Admitting to a mental block, she said, “I don’t know why I was 358 pounds,” giving the trainers cause for concern that she had gotten this far into the game without a psychological breakthrough.The next day, Victoria was put back on the treadmill to do as many sprints as the other players combined. After completing 35, rather than accomplished, she felt punished, and after a long talk with Jillian, still hadn’t made her breakthrough.

Stuck in the mud
When trainer Bob Harper took the players for an outdoor workout after the rain, the muddy conditions made for more mess than exercise. The group banded together to dump Bob into a large, muddy puddle, and then went after Jillian. As she dug a handful of muck out of her sweat pants, Jillian warned, “Payback’s a bitch.” Making good on the threat, she made the week’s Last Chance Workout the hardest ever.

Michael set a personal best on the treadmill with 5 miles, and at the weigh-in, he was the top performer, with another 9 pounds lost. Meanwhile, Sam shockingly zeroed out.

Sunshine lost less weight than her dad O’Neal, which he agonized over. But Andrea had a smaller percentage loss and fell below the yellow line with Sam.

Neither Sam nor Andrea had a negative word about the other; Sam said, “I will not choose that Melissa route.” But when all was said and done, it was Drea who went home, with the car from the challenge as a consolation prize.

Weigh in: Do you agree with Suze Orman’s changing her mind and picking Sunshine over Koli?