Michael Ventrella and Ashley Johnson make 'The Biggest Loser' finale
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/19/2010
Michael Ventrella, a 30-year-old deejay from Chicago, IL, and Ashley Johnston, a 27-year-old manager/esthetician from Knoxville, TN, were revealed to be two of The Biggest Loser's three ninth-season finalists during last night's penultimate broadcast of the NBC reality weight-loss show.
Home viewers will now decide which one of the season's two other remaining contestants -- Daris George, a 25-year-old salesman/deliveryman from Ardmore, OK, or Koli Palu, a 29-year-old football coach and head of security from Rohnert Park, CA -- will become the show's third finalist.
Immediately following the conclusion of last night's episode, home viewers could begin voting via NBC's website for either Daris or Koli.
The contestant who receives the most votes will be revealed during The Biggest Loser's live ninth-season finale on Tuesday, May 25 at 8PM ET/PT.
The Biggest Loser's penultimate ninth-season episode began following the previous elimination of SunShine Hampton, as the four remaining contestants left the ranch and returned home, where they were welcomed by family and friends.
In addition, trainer Jillian Harper traveled to Daris and Ashley's homes to help them workout, while fellow trainer Bob Harper went to the homes of Koli and Michael to help them.
After 30 days at home, the four remaining contestants then returned to Los Angeles to run a full 26.2-mile marathon. The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney also revealed that when each contestant crossed the finish line, they'd receive $10,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.
The marathon then commenced and as they were running, the contestants encountered some encouragement -- as Daris was met by second-season winner Matt Hoover, Koli was met by former seventh-season contestant Sione Fa, Ashley was met by fifth-season winner Ali Vincent, and Michael was met by seventh-season runner-up Michael Morelli.
Daris was the first to reach the finish line and he crossed it at 4:02:13 -- shattering the marathon record previously set by seventh-season finalist Tara Costa, who did it in just under five hours.
Koli was the next to cross the finish line with a time at 6:08:10, followed by Ashley and Michael at 6:26;18.
The final four contestants then met for The Biggest Loser's penultimate ninth-season weigh-in.
Alison informed them that, similar to the show's last four seasons, the two contestants with the highest weight-loss percentage would automatically advance to the finale weigh-in while home viewers would get to determine which of the two contestants with the lowest weight-loss percentage would get to join them in the finale weigh-in.
Michael was the first to step on the scale. He left the ranch at 322 lbs. and lost 23 more while at home for a total weight-loss percentage of 7.14%. Koli went next. He left the ranch at 231 lbs. and lost another 13 while at home for a total weight-loss percentage of 5.63%.
Ashley was the third contestant to step on the scale. She left the ranch at 231 lbs. and lost 18 more while at home for a total weight-loss percentage of 7.79%. Daris was the final contestant to weigh-in. He left the ranch at 195 lbs. and actually gained two while at home for a weight-gain percentage of 1.03%.
"I concentrated more on training for a marathon than I did on weight loss," explained Daris.
"It's hard to lose weight and train for a marathon. I'm very proud of the time I put up at the marathon. I'm very proud of the marathon and no one can ever take that away. It does suck to see two pounds gained."
Bob said it was "actually the exact opposite" of Daris' claim -- explaining you run to lose weight.
"I'm confused," said Bob.
"Clearly, obviously you sabotaged yourself," added Jillian, pleading with Daris to "get real" about what happened.
"It doesn't take a genius to figure this out," said Jillian in a confessional. "You're up two pounds, you've been eating too much. He's clearly eaten his way through all the amount of exercise he's been doing. It's a shame because he's such an amazing kid."
After learning that they'd finished as the two contestants with the lowest weight-loss percentage, Daris and Koli each got a chance to record a video and plead their cases to home viewers.
"This is a very humbling experience. From the first day I stepped on this ranch, I was depending on hard work. My whole mantra of being here has just been stay above the yellow line and you don't have to worry about votes, and I've done that until today," said Koli in his video.
"It's hard for me to ask, but I beg and plead to let me have that chance to let me finish what I started and to accomplish that goal that I asked for. At this point, it's up to you America."
Daris was much more emotional in his video plea.
"I gained two pounds, and I'm not proud of that. I guess Jillian's right. I sabotaged myself," said Daris in his video.
"I would be fine all day long and I would stay up and I would eat. I am not proud of that. I'm just asking for you to let me finish this, give me a second chance, and let me prove to you that I can do this."
(Photo credit NBC)
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