Shedding a staggering 264 pounds, Michael Ventrella, a 31-year-old DJ from Chicago, was crowned the latest winner of The Bigger Loser on Wednesday.
"I’m just freaking out right now!" he gushed to UsMagazine.com after the show. "I lost so much weight ... I'm reborn. I have a new life. Everything that I do and I see and I taste and I feel and I experience is done for the first time."
Ventrella, who now weighs 262 lbs., began as the show's heaviest competitor ever, tipping the scales at 526 lbs.
What is he most proud of? "Fitting in a plane seat!" Ventrella told Us. "Up until almost the end of the season I was flying on two seats!"
With his new $250,000 grand prize, the currently unattached Ventrella said he plans to go to Disney World.
"I’m going to use the money to better my family, better me," he went on. "A lot of this weight was because of debt, and not feeling good about myself and how I look and what’s going on in my life. I'm going to get rid of my student loans, I’m going to help my mom -- I'm going to surprise my mom with that convertible she’s always wanted that I promised her when I was a kid. She had a lime green Mustang convertible when she was younger, and it was a beat-up piece of crap. There was no floor on the bottom! So I’m going to surprise her. She's going to be so excited! She’s my No. 1 fan. She’s my motivation and inspiration."
Moving forward, Ventrella told Us his biggest challenge will be figuring out "what it takes to keep a healthy lifestyle. That's the biggest hurdle."
Being on the show taught him one important lesson: If he didn't lose weight, "I was going to die," he told Us. "It was do-or-die time."