Who is Season 9′s Biggest Loser?
Although season 8 winner Danny Cahill still sets the mark for most percentage of body fat lost on The Biggest Loser, this year's winner breaks his record for the sheer number of pounds lost on the show.
Who is the winner of season 9's Biggest Loser?
Keep reading to found out ...
Michael Ventrella, 31, a 6'3" deejay from Chicago, took the season 9 crown on Tuesday night when he went from 526 lbs. to 262 lbs. in six months, losing a total of 264 lbs. "I thought there was a glitch in the matrix!" an elated Ventrella tells PEOPLE. "I thought, 'What is wrong with the monitor?' I can't believe this. I just proved no matter what it is, possibility or not, it can happen."
Before weighing in. Ventrella presented his mother and teammate, Maria, with a white rose. "I had it hiding in my weigh-in clothes," Ventrella says. "I figured I am going to go ahead and do it because that lady means so much to me and is my inspiration. Not only did she give me birth, she gave me the motivation to change my life and have a rebirth."
Coming close to Ventrella was Knoxville, Tenn., esthetician Ashley Johnston, 28, who lost 183 lbs., going from 374 lbs. to 191 lbs. "At 374 lbs., I felt trapped," says Johnston. "I just felt so encased, and that wasn't who I really was on the inside. I feel like I am me now to the core."
Although Oklahoma State University student Daris George, 26, who went from 346 lbs. to 178 lbs., losing 168 lbs., placed third, he says, "It's all good. I've always had a big smile on my face no matter what, but I'm just enjoying life now and having fun with it."
Koli Palu, 28, missed out on his chance to be the Biggest Loser when George got America's vote to be in the final three, but the high school football coach from Rohnert Park, Calif., won the at-home prize of $100,000 when he weighed in at 188 lbs., a loss of 215 lbs. off his former 403-lb. frame. "I worked hard and I am really proud of that number," says Palu. "I leave here knowing that confetti or no confetti, I busted my butt the whole time. There wasn't a day wasted, and that's what I can walk out of here proud of."
Earlier in the finale, season 8 fan favorite Shay Sorrells, 31, a social worker from Newport Beach, Calif., lost 52 lbs. from her December finale weight of 304 lbs. (the 5'8" Sorrells had weighed 476 lbs. last year). Subway had offered her $1,000 for each pound lost and she would have received $52,000, but now she has a chance to double that amount by completing a marathon this year. "I haven't been this size since fifth grade," says Sorrells. "And to go and hear them say they will double it and take it even further -- it's awesome."
Hear more from Michael Ventrella and Shay Sorrells on PEOPLE.com tomorrow, and see their transformations in this week's issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday