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Fountains of multicolored confetti exploded, and Ventrella was smothered in hugs from family members and his celebrity trainers. He’d won 0,000, and he believed his life had changed for the better. “I have no money coming in and a lot of money going out. Ventrella is basically broke, and though he spent the fall in Los Angeles, he’s officially still living at home with his parents. Most of his time is spent attending promotional events for a Survivor-type show in which contestants are sequestered for 18 weeks on a ranch, work out for eight hours or more a day, and are ranked by percentage of weight lost.At weekly weigh-ins, the two contestants who have lost the least weight are vulnerable to being voted off.stepped on the giant scale that would weigh him like a prize head of cattle, he did so with a certain swagger.
On a late summer day, Ventrella, sporting a red bandanna around his forehead and wearing a Superman T-shirt, sips a glass of water in Marino’s Pizzeria & Italian Cafe in west suburban Wood Dale.
To win, the 31-year-old Bartlett man needed to weigh less than 269 pounds, almost half his starting weight of 526 pounds. At a recent breast cancer marathon, his new physique attracted wolf whistles from female admirers. But aside from the ego boost and the excitement of fitting into pants with a 38-inch waist, Ventrella hasn’t found a way to capitalize on his celebrity.
The numbers on the scale flipped wildly back and forth, then stopped at 262. His prize money is long gone, half to the taxman and the rest to paying off his student loans, credit cards, and truck loan.
“They aren’t as unique anymore.” More than that, Nordhielm says, winners of weight-loss shows aren’t really demonstrating any talent. You can’t translate that into a talk show or a mall tour or a hit single. That’s like being a former comedian.” It probably doesn’t help Ventrella’s prospects that some of the winners become fat again—for example, the season 3 winner, Erik Chopin, regained almost all the 214 pounds he lost.
With Chopin lingering as an object lesson, Ventrella is pushing ahead.
Sometimes the network argues over paying his parking. “The good part is I’m living, not only with my body but with my life.