Daniel Wright gets eliminated from 'The Biggest Loser: Couples'
By John Bracchitta, 01/28/2009
Daniel Wright, a 19-year-old student from Willow Spring, NC, began The Biggest Loser: Couples as the heaviest contestant in the show's history. However after a tense fourth week culminated a "worst-case scenario" weigh-in, Dan was eliminated from the competition during Tuesday night's broadcast of the NBC reality series.
"I'm most proud of three things on the ranch," Dan said following his elimination. "The first it losing 66 pounds in four weeks. Two, I hiked my 407-pound body up the mountains behind the ranch probably 50 times in the past couple weeks, and that's awesome. Third, I've run over 7 MPH on a treadmill when I was over 400 pounds. In the past, I would try to lose weight for other people because other people wanted it for me. Now I want it because I need it and because I want it.
Daniel's elimination also meant that his best friend and Orange team partner David Lee -- a 23-year-old student from Fuquay-Varina, NC who was sent home in the first week twist in which nine of the competition's eleven teams had to send a member home -- would not get to rejoin the competition after spending 30 days attempting to lose weight on his own.
"The person that arrived here on the ranch that first day is completely different," said David, who had just returned to the ranch just prior to Dan's elimination. "I know now that I can lose the weight, that I can do this at home, that I can take care of this weight problem and that I can do it either here or at home."
The Biggest Loser: Couples' fourth episode began with members of trainer Bob Harper's team livid over the previous week's elimination of Damien Gurganious by the members of trainer Jillian Michaels' team after they had promised to vote off Joelle Gwynn, a 41-year-old non-profit founder from Southfield, MI instead.
"Jillian's team is doing this for strategy because Joelle is weaker than Damien," Kristin Steede, a 28-year-old business owner from Greenville, WI, said following Damien's elimination. "They could have easily told us they were gonna vote Damien out, and instead they let every single one of Joelle's teammates write her name down. So now she's sitting in the house feeling that all of her team is probably against her."
"Are you serious!" said an equally frustrated Filipe Fam, a 26-year-old lube technician from Mesa, AZ. "Why would they come and ask us who we're gonna vote for, and then they turn around and smack us in the face like that?"
"They are strong, and they're getting stronger by the day," said Helen Phillips, a 47-year-old retired retail manager from Sterling Heights, MI. "So now we have to get stronger by the day. We have to take back immunity, we have to take back our team."
However, Jillian's team members maintained that the elimination was simply some gameplay and shouldn't be taken as an offense.
"It was definitely a surprise to the other team that we voted Damien off, said Blaine Cotter, a 27-year-old college counselor from Gilbert, AZ. "It's a game and we're playing it."
The following day, Bob was as shocked to discover that Joelle had not been eliminated. However, she pledged to take her second chance on the ranch seriously and contribute more to her team.
"I welcome the opportunity. I welcome working with you. I welcome pushing and representing," she told them.
"Let's all kick ass through this next weigh-in," Bob added, before having the contestants begin their workout.
Helen and Kristen both then went to Bob and complained that Joelle was still in the competition and worried she would continue to hold their team down, however Bob urged them to support her and remain focused on bringing their partners back from home by doing well in the upcoming weigh-in.
The contestants then met with The Biggest Loser: Couples host Alison Sweeney and celebrity chef Curtis Stone to kick off Super Bowl week.
Before the contestants began their Super Bowl activities, Alison revealed that Blaine would be leaving the competition for three days to be with his wife while she gave birth to their fourth child. While Blaine would miss the upcoming event and challenge, Alison said that he would be back in time for that week's weigh-in.
The contestants then learned their first Super Bowl week challenge would require them to guess the calorie counts of various snacks that are often consumed at Super Bowl parties. The three contestants who guessed closest to each dish's calorie count without going over would advance to the second round and learn how to cook a healthy alternative to the foods they had just guessed about from Curtis.
Finally, the contestant who guessed the closest to the amount of calories in Curtis' dish would not only get to send Curtis to visit their at-home partner and teach them healthy recipes, but their partner would also receive a two-pound pass for their first week back at the ranch as well.
After Dan, Kristin and Helen each guessed the closest to the amount of calories in chicken wings (991 calories), a bread bowl filled with chili and sour cream (1,165 calories) and seven layer dip (1,755 calories), Dan won the challenge after coming the closest to guessing the number of calories in Curtis' chicken kabob dish, which only had 230 calories in each serving.
"Now that I've got this two-pound pass [for] David, it's even more of a motivation to really bring him back and do what I can to bring him back," Dan said following the challenge.
Back in the gym, Bob was able to successfully unify his team once more by pulling out jumping boxes and having his team to exercises together as a group.
"We are a close team," Helen said following the workout. "When Bob works us out like that, it just build our support system and makes us stronger."
Back home in Arizona, Blaine was able to arrive in time to see the birth of his fourth child, a son. Upon seeing his family, Blaine said that he was reminded of the reasons he had committed to lose weight in the first place.
"It really hits home why I'm doing what I'm doing right now," he said. "It'll motivate me for the future. I'm excited to become even more healthy than I already am."
Back at the ranch, the contestants met Alison on a football field along with -- in an excellent case of either foresight or luck on NBC's part -- Kurt Warner, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback who will be competing this weekend in Super Bowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For their next Super Bowl week challenge, the contestants were told that they would be playing for immunity -- and therefore a guarantee that their partner would be able to return for the ranch for the next week of the competition -- by doing wind sprints on the football field before picking up footballs on the field's 40-yard-line. After retrieving a ball, contestants would have the choice to put it in the bin of another contestant. Once five balls were put into a contestant's bin they were eliminated from the competition.
Once the challenge began, Bob's team members immediately prioritized taking out the stronger players from Jillian's team. While Filipe was the first contestant to have five balls put in their been, Bob's team retaliated by knocking out Tara Costa, a 23-year-old finance manager and former model from New York, NY who had won the two prior challenges.
After the additional eliminations of Kristin; Amanda "Mandi" Kramer, a 30-year-old cosmetologist from Boise, ID; Dane Patterson, a 27-year-old real estate appraiser from Mesa, AZ; and Mike Morelli, an 18-year-old student from South Lyon, MI; Helen and Joelle were left as the two remaining contestants with four balls in each of their bins.
Following a footrace to get back to the bins with her ball, Helen was able to knock out Joelle and win immunity, guaranteeing that her daughter Shanon Thomas, a 29-year-old massage therapist from Centerline, MI, would return to the ranch.
"I won immunity, it was great," Helen said after the challenge. "I'm gonna cry. It was awesome!. I'm 48-years-old and I won a football challenge, what are the chances of that happening to me, but I did it."
The following day the teams began their last chance workouts. Upon returning to the ranch, Blaine acknowledged that he would have to work hard to negate any ill effects of being away.
"Being away from the ranch for three days, [I had a] great experience going home, but definitely three days away is gonna be tough," Blaine said. "I'm definitely more worried about this weigh-in than I have been for any of the others."
As the contestants worked out, Jillian focused on Dan, who she saw struggling in his workouts after being unable to finish running for one minute on a treadmill.
"Dan is a great kid, but he doesn't push himself out of his comfort zone," Jillian said. "He talks a really big game, but doesn't follow through."
"All of these things start popping up in my head like 'I'm 400 pounds, I could break my knee, my ankle could go out, all of these stupid excuses are popping up that make me wanna run away from it," Dan said later.
After pushing him to keep running on the treadmill to the point where he fell off of it and gasped for breath, Jillian finally got Dan to admit that he had doubts about ever being able to get thin. However, after more pushing from Jillian, she finally got him to push past his doubts and run on the treadmill without stopping for one minute.
"I'm hoping he'll have some realization, that all of his fear, and all of his self-image that he's created for himself is not true," Jillian said following the workout.
The contestants then gathered with Alison for their weigh-in, well aware that passing on to the next round would enable their partners to return to the ranch.
"This whole month has been nerves and stress and pushing yourself to your ultimate limit," Mandi said. "I wanted to know for sure that [my sister Aubrey Cheney, a 28-year-old information and education specialist from Gooding, ID,] was gonna be here to stay."
However, to add to the excitement prior to the weigh-in, Alison revealed that each contestant's partner had already returned to the ranch as they emerged from behind her.
"I'm sure... all of your partners are extremely anxious to find out how you have done, but don't take my word for it, take theirs," she said.
"Oh my god, I've never gone this long without seeing my mom," said Kristen upon seeing her mom Cathy Skell, a 48-year-old title sales closing agent from Shiocton, WI. "As soon as she walked around that corner, this flood of emotion just ran over me, it was like chaos. Everybody's hugging everybody, everybody was so happy, it was like a moment of pure joy."
After the team reunions, Alison said that the at-home contestants would weigh-in the next day and the at-the-ranch contestants began their own weigh-in.
Since she won immunity at the Super Bowl challenge earlier in the week, Helen weighed in first, losing 6 pounds.
Tara won the weigh-in for the week, losing 12 pounds to lead the other contestants in weight-loss percentage with a 4.55% loss.
Mandi followed in second place, losing 10 pounds for a loss of 4.22%
Filipe came in third, losing 13 pounds for weight loss percentage 4.01%
The Black team of Blaine (11 pounds) and Dane (15 pounds) combined to follow in fourth place, netting a 3.81% loss.
Kristen followed in fifth, losing 12 pounds for a 3.7% loss.
Joelle came next, losing 10 pounds for a percentage loss of 3.47%.
Dan lost 12 pounds for a 2.96% loss and the Brown team of Mike (9 pounds) and and his dad Ron Morelli (7 pounds), a 54-year-old city councilman and retired food distributor, combined for a 2.21% loss, which placed both teams all of the yellow line and put them up for elimination.
"It can't get any worse than this," Mike said after the weigh-in. "Any other combination of people would have been easier... Dan and I are both so young so overweight. It's probably the worst possible scenario for this week."
As the contestants convened to decide how they would vote, Ron plead to the contestants to keep him and his son in the competition and repeatedly said how felt like he had failed Mike.
"As a dad I just feel like I failed my son. You're here to protect, you're hear to help, and I should've done better. I should've done better," Ron told the contestants. "I wanna be here, I need to be here, my son needs to be here. I don't wanna go, but you guys vote with your heart"
Dan plead his case in a similar fashion.
"Ron, Mike and I all deserve to be here, we all need to be here," he said "This is hard because Ron and Mike were instrumental in keeping me here two weeks ago. I've had a chance to change a lot of things in the past couple weeks. All I can ask is that each one of you votes according to the way you feel is right."
However, Dan's partner David somewhat undermined Dan's argument to stay when he stated that weight-loss "can be done from home."
"I've found out that it can be done," he said to the puzzled contestants. "Whatever happens, whoever goes home, it can be done either way."
The contestants then met in the elimination room to reveal who they had voted for. With two votes each for each set of contestants, Tara cast her vote to eliminate Mike and Ron, but not before chewing out David for his comments about preferring to work out at home.
"I'm pissed at you Dave," she screamed at him through tears. "Do you realize that 250,000 people tried out for this, and [Dan has] worked his ass off for you? You need to be here more than you know!"
"The truth is my commitment is here, my heart is not," Dave responded. "Being here on the ranch, it's the best opportunity of your life, but you're trapped in and that's hard for me."
After another vote for Dan tied up the vote 3-3, the deciding vote came down to Filipe.
"Do you know what its like to wake up in the morning and not have your wife by you?" Filipe, who has a wife and kids at home, yelled at Dave. "And not have your kids to play with. That's trapped."
Filipe proceeded to eliminate Dan, sending him and Dave home.
In the post-show update, Dave was revealed to have lost 46 pounds since he first arrived at The Biggest Loserranch. while Dan had dropped 101 pounds and been taken off of his diabetes medication. It also stated that he had his eyes on breaking The Biggest Loser's all-time weight-loss record.
The next episode of The Biggest Loser: Couples will air on Tuesday, February 3 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC.