Maria Ventrella gets eliminated from 'The Biggest Loser: Couples'
By Reality TV World staff, 01/20/2010
Maria Ventrella, a 51-year-old corporate travel agent from Chicago, IL, became the third contestant eliminated from The Biggest Loser: Couples during last night's ninth-season episode of the NBC reality weight-loss series.
"I'm just happy to have been here and experienced something really great. I was trained by two of the best trainers in the world. I don't know how to explain it, it's just... a beautiful opportunity," Maria, who had been a member of the season's White team, said after her ouster.
"[The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels] and I have a really close relationship. She's made me understand that I am a stronger person than I was, that I have to live for yourself. She's opened by eyes."
The Biggest Loser: Couples' third episode began with the competition's 14 remaining contestants meeting host Alison Sweeney for a temptation challenge, where she revealed the upcoming week would be "Student/Teacher Week" on The Biggest Loser ranch.
"This week each team member will play a role. One will be the teacher and one will be the student," Alison explained. "The teacher's job is to take everything that they learn from their trainers and teach it to their teammate because the next time the student will see [Bob Harper] and Jillian is at the weigh-in."
"The student is the only one who will represent their team on the scale this week. It is only their weight that will count towards determining who stays above that yellow line and who is below."
The contestants then competed in the temptation challenge to determine who would get to decide which member of each team would be the "teacher" and which would be the "student."
Given they had each already lost their partners, Brown team member John Crutchfield, a 30-year-old senior marketing manager from Orlando, FL, and Purple team member Stephanie Anderson, a 29-year-old radio sales executive from West Hollywood, CA, were paired together as a team.
"Obviously determining who is the teacher and who is the student is a huge decision. And it could be yours. All you have to do is win your first temptation. [And] all you have to do to win today's temptation is eat more than anyone else," Alison explained before revealing the challenge would require the contestants to eat small M&M-like candies.
Although the candies were only five calories each, most of the teams decided to pass on the challenge after concluding they didn't want to risk dealing with any negative repercussions from the assignments.
"I don't want to be responsible for whoever potentially is going home in Week 3. That's just drama I don't want to partake in right now," Red team member Melissa Morgan, a 39-year-old attorney from Aspermont, TX, explained afterwards.
After taking a moment to discuss the matter with their teammates, only two contestants were willing to eat a single candy -- Maria's son, Michael Ventrella, a 30-year-old deejay who is also from Chicago, IL, and Pink team member Sherry Johnston, a 51-year-old non-profit administrator from Knoxville, TN.
Michael then decided not to match Sherry when she ate a second candy, giving her the temptation challenge win.
Afterward, Sherry and her daughter Ashley Johnston, a 27-year-old manager/esthetician from Knoxville, TN, immediately regretted winning the challenge.
"Now we have all the pressure," Ashley told her mother as the two began to deliberate the assignments. "This is going to make us like screw people over now. I didn't think about that."
"I didn't either," Sherry replied.
"Right after we decided to play we regretted it instantly. Like why did we just do that, because now we have to make this decision, and it sucks," Ashley lamented afterwards.
Sherry and Ashley then revealed their assignments.
Melissa, Michael, Sherry, Stephanie, Black team member Andrea Hough, Gray team member Sam Poueu, Green team member Migdalia Sebren, and Orange team member Cheryl George were all named teachers, while Ashley, John, Maria, Red team member Lance Morgan, Black team member Darrell Hough, Gray team member Koli Palu, Green team member Miggy Cancel, and Orange team member Daris George were all deemed students.
Most of the contestants seemed satisfied with the assignments, however Migdalia's body language immediately made it clear that she was unhappy with the move.
"It wasn't a hard decision [for them]," Miggy said afterward. "For my daughter this was her peak week, this coming week she was going to lose more weight. so was it convenient for her to be the teacher? No, it was convenient for her to weigh-in."
Migdalia's frustration was still obvious when the "teacher" contestants met with Bob and Jillian and told them about the twist, however she denied being upset when they confronted her about it.
"It's obvious that you're upset! It's obvious that your upset," Bob told Migdalia after she denied Jillian's initial question.
"No," she replied again.
"It is. It is obvious. I'm not stupid. Do you think I'm stupid?" Bob asked.
"I'm not saying that," she replied.
"If something's up with you and you don't want to talk about it that's a whole other thing," Bob persisted. "But don't say nothing's wrong when something is obviously wrong."
"There is nothing wrong," Migdalia insisted.
"Fine," Bob replied, dropping the issue.
However after discussing the situation further once the contestants left, Bob and Jillian decided Migdalia's stance wasn't "fine" after all.
"She's got a chip on her shoulder the size of Texas," Jillian told Bob.
"Yeah, that's not good," Bob replied. "It's up to us to knock that chip off because what good is that doing?"
"I agree," Jillian said.
Jillian then attempted to confront Migdalia about the matter during the "teacher" group's subsequent workout, leading to Migdalia announcing -- just as Jillian had predicted to Bob -- that she quitting the competition after Jillian suggested that Migdalia's current lifestyle was going to result in her 9-year-old daughter also being "fat and unhealthy."
"I'm done. I'm done," she said as she left the gym and Jillian chased after her.
"Please don't quit right now," Jillian said as she chased Migdalia across the ranch. "Don't be done."
However Migdalia rejected Jillian's efforts and returned to her room at The Biggest Loser ranch, causing Jillian to find Miggy and ask her to convince her daughter to not quit the competition.
"I'll talk to her," Miggy replied.
Miggy then discussed the situation with Migdalia as Jillian discussed it with Bob, resulting in Bob eventually approaching the women and convincing Migdalia that Jillian had not been suggesting she was a bad mother.
"You're upset, I understand that. I need you to cool off," Bob told Migdalia as Miggy looked on.
Both women eventually agreed to stay but made it clear they had been offended by Jillian's "bad cop" approach, which she had attempted at Bob's urging after her initial "good cop" attempt had failed.
"Coming here is to change our ways, not to change our personalities," Miggy told Bob. "We appreciate everything you guys are doing for us but trying to change the way we are is something totally different."
"I'm not going to try to change you, I'm going to try to help you," Bob replied.
"I appreciate that and I'm open to that," Miggy said. "But when someone comes and tells you 'You're like your mother and your daughter is going to be like you,' you're talking in a negative way. Or that's the way we interpret it."
Later, the contestants met Alison at a children's playground, where she revealed they would be participating in a "Student/Teacher Week" challenge in which each team's "teacher" would have 15 minutes to unwind and tangle 1,000 feet of colored ribbon throughout the playground.
After the ribbons were unwound, the "student" team members would then draw to determine which ribbon they would have to attempt to untangle. The first one to do so would win immunity for their team, as well as the opportunity to swap another team's student/teacher assignment.
However once the ribbons were unwound, Alison revealed that there would be no random draw and each "students" would actually have to untangle the ribbon that their teammate had unwound -- and also do it blindfolded as their "teacher" talked them through the process.
Once the challenge started it quickly turned into a two-way race between the Gray and Red teams. In the end, Koli managed to finish unwinding his ribbon before Lance, winning the challenge for his team.
After participating in their Last Chance Workout, the contestants began their elimination weigh-in, with Alison explaining that the team with the lowest weight-loss percentage would fall below the yellow line and one member would subsequently be eliminated based on votes cast by the other contestants.
Sam and Koli then revealed that they had decided to use their challenge win to change the White team's student/teacher assignments.
"We choose the White team," announced Koli, who had previously noted that Michael had not seemed to be working out much given his weigh-in was not expected to have any impact on the week's weigh-in results.
"I knew it," Michael responded.
"Mike, I really want to explain why," Koli continued. "You really haven't done much in these three weeks. You haven't shown why you want to be here. And it pains me and it pains Sam, because there are so many people who deserve to be here and we were the lucky 24."
"But you don't take advantage of it. I'm not hoping you fall below the yellow line, I just want to let you know it's time to work and that's it."
Although he nodded silently, Michael was upset by the move.
"Who are they to dictate how I should be working out, my intensity?" he vented afterwards. "Worry about yourself, I'm worrying about myself, I'm not going around telling other people 'Dude, I think you really could have done another 10 minutes on that treadmill.'"
Since they had immunity, Sam and Koli then weighed-in first.
Sam had started the week at 345 pounds and dropped 11 while Koli had begun at 366 pounds and lost 13, giving the Gray team a combined 24 pound loss.
The Green team went next. Migdalia had begun the week at 245 pounds and lost eight while Miggy had started at 219 pounds and dropped seven. However Miggy's loss was the only one that counted, so they were left with a 3.20% weight-loss percentage.
They were followed by the Black team. Andrea had started the week at 279 pounds and lost seven. Darrell had begun the week at 373 pounds and lost 12. Since Darrell was the "student," the team ended up with a 3.22% weight-loss percentage.
The Orange team was the fourth team to weigh-in. Cheryl had begun the week at 210 pounds and lost seven. Daris -- the team's "student" -- had started at 310 pounds and dropped nine, giving the team a 2.90% weight-loss percentage.
Stephanie and John's special "mixed" team went next, with Stephanie dropping seven pounds from her previous 243 pound weigh-in number and John losing 14 pounds after having started the week at 451 pounds. Since John was the "student," they ended up with a 3.10% weight-loss percentage.
The Red team was the sixth team to weigh-in. Lance -- the teams' student -- had started the week at 336 pounds and lost 13, giving the team a 3.57% weight-loss percentage. However similar to the Week 2 weigh-in at which the Red team had immunity, Melissa appeared to deliberately throw the weigh-in and dropped only one pound from her prior 215 pound weight.
"She threw the weigh-in. Again," Jillian immediately told Bob.
However Jillian and Bob both quickly grew frustrated when Melissa proceeded to insist her poor numbers were legitimate and lament her weight-loss difficulties.
"She's full of shit!" Jillian shouted after listening to Melissa continue venting about her alleged struggles.
"You're not fooling anyone," she added. "You threw the weigh-in last week. This week you threw the weigh-in again. And I don't care because obviously it is a game. The only thing that's annoying is -- or I'll say offensive -- is that you think we're stupid!"
"It offends me that you think I would stand up here and lie to you like that," Melissa replied.
"Melissa, you would have had to have eaten, I don't know, 7,000 calories a day this week to compensate for all the exercise you've been doing," Jillian shot back.
"Did you work out? Have you been binging?" Bob asked as he joined the debate.
"Hell no," Melissa replied as they continued to argue back-and-forth as Alison, Lance and the rest of the contestants looked on.
"It is not a joke here!" Bob eventually shouted "Don't. Lie. To. Me. That's what I'm saying."
"Questioning my integrity, that really offends me quite a bit," Melissa snapped back.
"Why are we fighting with her?" Jillian asked Bob after the threesome had continued bickering.
"I know, let's move on. Let's move on, this is not the place for this," Bob replied, causing Alison to ask Lance if he wanted to say anything.
"Not a damn thing right now. I don't want to say a word, no," he responded.
The White team was the next team to step on the scales after the weigh-in resumed -- and while they still ended up finishing with the week's lowest weight-loss, the Gray team's swap actually ended up giving them a higher weight-loss percentage than they would have had originally.
Maria had begun the week at 258 pounds and only lost four pounds (a 1.55% weight-loss percentage) while Michael had started the week at 481 pounds and dropped 10, giving the White team a 2.08% weight-loss percentage.
The Pink team was the last team to weigh-in. Sherry had begun the week at 196 pounds and lost six while Ashley -- the team's "student" -- had started the week at 345 pounds and dropped 12, giving them a 3.48% weight-loss percentage.
After the weigh-in ended, Maria immediately began begging the other contestants to keep her son on the ranch and vote to send her home.
"I hate to go but I really would request of you [to] please let Michael stay here because he needs your help," Maria said tearfully as Michael stood beside her.
"Push him, because otherwise he'll fall back. When Dr. H. said he'd only have five more years before he'd have a stroke, a heart attack -- I beg of you, don't let that happen, let him stay here. He needs your support."
However John wasn't moved by Maria's plea.
"I have to be honest with you, I don't know which way we're going to vote," John told Maria and Michael.
"I want Michael to go home because I'm tired of the excuses," he explained afterwards. "I'm a big guy [too]. I know what 500 pounds feels like, I know what knee pain feels like.... to me, him not putting in the effort and seeing my brother go home, seeing [Stephanie's mother] go home, it's an insult."
But once the vote came, John and Stephanie were clearly in the minority.
Similar to the competition's first two elimination votes, nearly all the contestants decided to honor the wishes of the team that was up for elimination. While John and Stephanie voted to eliminate Michael, the Orange, Black, Gray, and Red teams all respected Maria's request, resulting in her elimination (since the outcome had already been decided, the Green and Pick teams' votes were not shown).
"When it was your time I granted what you wanted. [I did] the same thing with her mom. I think that's more of a slap in the face than anything else," Maria said after John revealed his team's vote.
In a post-elimination update, Maria revealed she is now down to 230 pounds.
The Biggest Loser: Couples' next episode will air Tuesday, January 26 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC.