The Winning Loser

updated 06/07/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/07/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SEASON 9 CHAMPION!

NOW: 262 LBS.

BEFORE: 526 LBS.

BIGGEST LOSER: Michael Ventrella

AGE: 31

STARTING WEIGHT: 526 lbs.

As a deejay, Michael Ventrella didn't stop the party when the club closed down in the wee hours. "I'd stay at the bar and get a couple of cocktails. Then I'd order some greasy food because I'm hungry, and then I'd go to bed," Ventrella says of his former ritual. "It was such a bad lifestyle." Those nights are no longer: Since the 6'3" Chicago native lost a jaw-dropping 264 lbs. on the show-the most in Biggest Loser history! (The previous record-holder was season 8's winner Danny Cahill, who shaved off 239 lbs.)-Ventrella now gets up early to go on six-hour bike rides and eats homemade pizza with low-fat cheese. But some old habits are hard to shake. He still walks down corridors sideways "even when there is enough room to drive a semi!" And when he picks up his new size 38 pants, "I'll say, 'This will fit a Ken doll.' But then I'll button them and be blown away," says Ventrella. "I feel reborn."

THE OTHER FINALISTS

NOW: 178 LBS.

BEFORE: 346 LBS.

DARIS GEORGE, 26

The biggest change for the 5'10" Oklahoma State University student? "All the girls are like, "You look hot!'" says the Ardmore, Okla., resident, who in April began dating Heather Anthony, 24, because "I realized I'm worth it."

NOW: 191 LBS.

BEFORE: 374 LBS.

ASHLEY JOHNSTON, 28

"I'm spending too much money shopping!" says the Knoxville, Tenn., esthetician, who went from a size 28 to a 12 but wants to lose 30 more lbs. "I don't want to be a stick. I want to be sexy and curvy!"

NOW: 188 LBS.

BEFORE: 403 LBS.

KOLI PALU, 29

The high school football coach helped whittle his waist from 50 to 34 in. by enrolling in a mixed martial arts camp post-Ranch. Now "there are no X-s in front of the L!" says Palu. And no more Mr. Shy Guy. "I am not afraid to look somebody else in the eye now."

NOW: 252 LBS.

BEFORE: 304 LBS.

$52,000 WINNER!

SHAY SORRELLS, 31

Once 476 lbs., the 5'8" fan favorite from season 8 continued losing, pocketing $1,000 per pound courtesy of Subway. "I want to be happy," Sorrells says. "That doesn't come at a price."

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