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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Helen Phillips wins NBC's Biggest Loser, gives hope to underdogs everywhere

Helen-finale I know American Idol faves Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey were a little busy last night.

But they might want to take a moment Wednesday to check out video of surprise winner Helen Phillips' come-from-nowhere victory Tuesday on NBC's popular weight loss competition Biggest Loser. Because the mousy 48-year-old was the last contestant expected to win the show's $250,000 first prize -- propelled to the top spot by losing 54.47 percent of her body weight, down to 117 pounds from a starting weight of 257 pounds.

Early on, the field of four finalists was whittled down to three by audience vote, as young favorite Mike Morelli -- the biggest weight loser in the show's history -- was picked to advance in the competition over his dad, Ron. Mike wound up losing 207 pounds total, but his percentage of weight loss was just under Phillips', at 53.35 percent from a starting weight of 388 pounds.

The hazards of a live results show also surfaced here. Packed with filler stuff -- like an audience vote to choose one of the competitors on the show's next cycle -- the THREE-HOUR FINALE left no time for the actual results, announcing Phillips' win over favorite Tara Costa so quickly, there was no time for viewers to actually see the stats (Costa lost 155 pounds from a starting weight of 294, adding up to a loss of 52.72 percent).

There's something wrong when a three-hour finale ends so tight, that the winner doesn't even have time to say a thank you.

Hayes-finale In another surprise, the show's oldest contestant, 63-year-old Gerald Hayes, won the competition among the ejected contestants for $100,000, losing 47.97 percent of his body weight.

Though he and wife Estella were the first competitors eliminated from the show -- and Gerald Hayes was shown fainting during the first workout -- his two weeks at The Biggest Loser ranch was all the inspiration he needed to lose 177 pounds, down from a starting weight of 369.

As cycle 4 winner Bill Germanakos told me on Monday, much of the finale results comes from how hard the competitors are willing to work once they have left the ranch.

Hayes was helped by a field of contestants who seemed to have trouble continuing their weight-losing ways after leaving the show. Perhaps because the group was the heaviest field of competitors in the show's history, the finale's final weigh-ins featured a lot of people who remained overweight.

On Tuesday, Phillips alluded to a grueling training program with multiple trainers; you gotta also wonder if Costa, who had always lost enough weight during the competition to avoid the threat of elimination, got a little cocky and didn't push herself enough before the finale.

Pay attention, Adam and Danny; this Biggest Loser is proof that any contest can turn on a dime if the competition works hard enough.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:57pm]

    

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