Dec 9, 2009 9:53 AM by Jay Brown
Like the previous seven seasons of "The Biggest Loser," Tuesday's finale (seen on News First 5 at 7 pm) ended with dramatic weight losses and one fit winner. But season 8 also had a few surprises, including a live marriage proposal and a new big-money challenge for one contestant.
In the end, it came down to two dads - Rudy Pauls and Danny Cahill - fighting for the $250,000 grand prize. Going from 430 pounds to a svelte 191, Danny dropped a jaw-dropping 239 pounds, 55.58 percent of his original body weight, to finish on top. Rudy lost 234 pounds (52.9 percent).
Despite their fierce competition, the two finalists "are best friends," Danny told Meredith Vieira on TODAY Wednesday. "When I saw how well [Rudy] had done, it scared me to death," Danny confessed. "I said, ‘Did you beat me?'
"I'm in a daze; I'm numb," Danny added. "How could you not smile? I feel like a million bucks."
Amanda Arlauskas, who was voted into season 8 by viewers, earned the chance to compete against Danny and Rudy in the final when she won the viewing audience's vote once again, this time over Liz Young. Amanda lost 87 pounds - 34.8 percent of her body weight - to tip the scales at 163 pounds.
Before the final weigh-in, Antoine Dove, looking nothing like the 367-pound man who started the show after losing 41.42 percent of his body weight, got down on one knee and asked fellow contestant Alexandra White for her hand in marriage.
"I love you with all my heart," Antoine said through tears. "I've accomplished the impossible in my life because you [were] by my side. And now we're going to be able to live our lives together forever if you'd accept this ring."
Alexandra, the first contestant to be voted off of season 8, gladly accepted.
But Antoine and Alexandra were only two of four contestants who found love this season; Daniel Wright and Rebecca Meyer also got together after leaving campus. The relationship clearly motivated them both to continue their weight-loss journey at home.
Rebecca lost 139 pounds to earn the $100,000 prize for most weight lost by an eliminated player. "I did not think this was possible, and it was in me to do," Rebecca said.
It was Daniel's second time on "The Biggest Loser." During season 7 he lost 142 pounds, and he was able to add another 111 to that total in season 8. This time around, he was paired with Shay Sorrells, the heaviest contestant in the history of the show, whose starting weight was 476 pounds.
Although Shay lost 172 pounds, her current weight of 304 is nowhere near her goal. To her surprise, she was offered a financial incentive to continue her journey: For every pound she loses before the season 9 finale in May, Subway will give her $1,000.
Shay is one of two former contestants who have been invited to weigh in at the season 9 finale. Season 3 champ Erik Chopin took home $250,000 when he lost more than 200 pounds, going from 407 to 193. But a few short years later, he has gained it all back. During a recent "Where Are They Now" special, trainer Bob Harper invited Erik to recommit to a healthy lifestyle and appear on the season 9 finale to show off his hard work.
As for the newest Biggest Loser, Danny Cahill is still marveling at his own weight-loss journey. "To go that quickly from that to this is amazing," he told Vieira of his 239-pound loss. "The first day, I walked into the gym ... they killed us," he recalled.
Clearly a family man, Danny told Vieira it was his wife and children who motivated him to change his lifestyle. "One of my main inspirations for trying out for the show was my family," he explained. "I'm a father. I want to see my kids grow up ... I don't want to leave my wife without a husband."
As for his monetary winnings, Danny already knows the first thing he's going to do with them. "The first thing I'm going to buy? Carpet," he said on "The Jay Leno Show" Tuesday night. "We have had the most horrible carpet for eight years in our house."
But for season 8's Biggest Loser, the emotional rewards may outweigh the financial ones - and he intends to pass those winnings on.
"I am definitely going to pay it forward," Danny told Vieira. " ‘The Biggest Loser' has definitely given me my life back ... I want to be an inspiration for as many people as I can."