Monday, June 13, 2011


Justin Pope of Logan came just a few pounds short of winning the $100,000 at-home prize on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” But he has no hard feelings toward Deni Hill, who ended up losing the highest percentage of weight out of the eliminated contestants. 
“If I was going to lose to someone, that was definitely the person I would want to lose it to,” Justin told me in a telephone interview today. 

Coincidentally, Deni had told me earlier that she would have been perfectly happy if she and Justin could have tied and split the money.
I’m currently working on a “summer shape-up” story for the Deseret News, using tips and recipes from both Justin and Deni. 
And while getting some great workout and eating ideas from the Callout King,  I couldn’t help but ask him about the weigh-in where he got sent home. It appeared to be a game-playing move gone wrong, and had us scratching our heads and asking, “What was Ken thinking?” and "What was Kaylee thinking?"  

To refresh some memories here (just in the off-chance that not all of you readers are obsessed with Biggest Loser to instantly recall every episode) Kaylee Kinikini had told everyone it was time for her to go home. She asked her teammates Ken and Austin to purposely gain weight by water-loading so their team would lose the weigh-in, and then the group could vote her off. But, when Ken posted a 7-pound weight loss, Justin’s team was up for elimination, and the vote was between Justin and teammate Courtney.  Instead of pleading his case to stay, Justin asked the rest of the group to vote him off so that Courtney could stay longer. 
“It was such a shocker the way the whole thing went down,” Justin said. “We had all sat around at dinner and talked about Kalee going home.  Ken’s on board and Austin’s on board with it.  Then the next morning Ken had a panic attack about it. He thought it was his opportunity to send Rulon home. He figured that Rulon would take it easy that week, since we all knew the plan to send Kalee home.”
(This explanation makes sense, since Rulon was the obvious front-runner to try to beat. Also, after Ken was eliminated, he said in a media conference call that he and his son, Austin, had had a falling out with Rulon, and had told Rulon that if given the chance, they would vote him off.) 
However, the plan backfired. Rulon lost five pounds at the weigh-in, and his team was safe. 
Justin said of his decision to sacrifice himself for Courtney, “Maybe some of it has to do with our religion (he is LDS, or Mormon), where you try to be kind to other people. I wanted to change the tone of the show, I wanted it to be a positive thing.” 
Also, he had already  lost 118 pounds, from 365 pounds to 247, and didn’t envision that he could lose much more.
 “I didn’t know that my body would every look like it does now,” he said. “I figured when I got to 255 or so, I would be done.  When I was in college, I was 255, and I was in good shape.  But Brett (Hoebel, the trainer) told me that I could do it, and I  did everything he told me to do.  After I got home, I realized that I could win this.  But, in the end, it didn’t really matter.”
At the BL finale, Justin lost a total of 173 pounds, weighing in at a trim 192. 

He said the show changed his life completely. “But the negative side is that  it’s a long time away from home, and a lot of changes you go through without your family. You come home to them and you not only look different, but in every way I am a different person.”

He said he expected to be gone three months total, but instead he was away almost six months.

That's it for now-- more on Justin to come later.

I'm curious to find out what fans of the show thought about this season's game-plays and the way that voting and eliminations went down.  Who did you want to win? Were you happy with the finale?

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