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‘Loser’ castoff: I should have run, not ridden

He’s been called “The Biggest Liar,” and Dane Patterson said he will atone for making it look like he’d run a full marathon  on “The Biggest Loser: Couples” despite getting a three-mile ride: “It wasn’t a very difficult decision, but one I obviously regret.”
/ Source: TODAY contributor

He’s been called “The Biggest Liar,” and Dane Patterson wanted to let people who had watched him set a weight-loss record on “The Biggest Loser: Couples” know that he intends to atone for making it appear that he’d run a full marathon despite getting a three-mile ride in a van during the race.

It was, Dane Patterson told TODAY’s Al Roker Tuesday in New York, a matter of a producer’s wanting a shot of Patterson crossing the finish line of the marathon within a designated time limit — and Patterson’s going along with it.

At the time, he said, “It wasn’t a very difficult decision, but one that I obviously regret.” Come April, he added, he and his wife plan to run another marathon, saying, “By that time, I’ll be able to redeem myself.”

Eight weeks, 100 pounds
Last week, Patterson, a 27-year-old real-estate appraiser from Mesa, Ariz., was voted off the show despite posting a 100-pound weight loss in eight weeks — the fastest any contestant had ever lost so much weight in the history of the popular NBC reality show. In a segment filmed to bring viewers up to date on what he’d done since being voted off, he was shown finishing a 26.2-mile marathon in Arizona with his wife.

It was an impressive accomplishment for a man who weighed 270 pounds. But there was a problem that other runners quickly pointed out: Patterson had accepted a ride with one of the show’s producers so that he could be filmed crossing the finish line ahead of the race’s six-hour time limit.

“When I got to the marathon, I understood that after six hours, the marathon was going to be close,” he told Roker. “At mile 17, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make it in that time. The producer wanted that shot of me going through the finish line, so that decision was made.”

Patterson insisted he never intended to cheat or deceive anyone. “I went back after the filming was done and ran those three miles, because I was planning on running the entire marathon and that’s what I did,” he told Roker.

When the truth was revealed after the show aired last Wednesday, NBC immediately announced that it would investigate what happened.

“The segment as aired was contrary to NBC policy,” the network said in a prepared statement. It added that the network would talk to “Biggest Loser” producers “to ensure that corrective action is taken.”

Under pressure
Roker twice asked Patterson who made the decision to take a shortcut, but Patterson didn’t answer specifically.

Image: Jillian Michaels , Dane Patterson

“It was understood that we really needed that shot at the finish line. I was under a lot of pressure. I felt that I was trying to please the show,” Patterson replied.

Patterson’s “Biggest Loser” trainer, Jillian Michaels, joined him for the interview with Roker. She pointed out that something has been lost in the controversy: the fact that Patterson, a former offensive lineman who had begun the show at 412 pounds, accomplished a remarkable feat.

“It’s such a shame, though, because he ran 23 miles. I’ve never even run more than five miles,” Michaels said. “Of course you want that shot at the end. I wish it had been presented different.”

“It’s sad,” Patterson said. “I wanted to please the show. I felt grateful to be on the show. I know how important that finish-line shot was. That’s why it happened.”

Failure is an option
Roker asked Michaels whether the desire to have a shot of Patterson crossing the finish line didn’t obscure what should be the real message, which is that sometimes people try and fail.

“That really is the bigger message. And I think Dane’s learned that. He knows, you give it a shot, you reach for the stars, and if you’re not failing, you’re not really living,” Michaels answered. “I want them to fail, because I want them to try for things that are out of their comfort zone. It’s like, ‘OK, now I know I got this far, and next time I’ll work on X, Y and Z and I’ll complete the entire thing.’ ”

At the same time, Michaels said she understood the pressure everyone was under. “Because it’s a reality show, they want that money shot at the end, and I guess a producer made a poor decision.”

Despite losing 100 pounds in eight weeks, Patterson was voted off the show by fellow team members in what he saw as a political decision. He cried when he was told he was eliminated, but he’s continued to peel off the weight. He’s now down a total of 142 pounds, he told Roker.

“That’s awesome — an awesome feeling,” he said of his accomplishment.