Will "American Idol" Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard become the first person to win two major network reality competitions? Could be, and after you watch the man whom "Idol" fans came to know as the "Velvet Teddy Bear" talk about why he signed on for another reality series, chances are you'll be rooting for him once again.
In the video above, Studdard, who won "American Idol" in 2003, talks about his journey to the "Biggest Loser" ranch and competition, including following a vegan diet for several years, losing 100 pounds and then regaining it, and triumphing with his music career but losing focus on his physical health.
"What I found when I was a vegan was that I never really paid attention [to], or looked for, the healthy options," says Studdard, who will turn 35 on Sept. 12. "So that's why I didn't know they were there. I just went to what was quick. Or I got somebody, a roadie, to go out and get pizzas for everybody ... it was, 'How can we get the band on the bus and movin' in 30 minutes?' And how you do that is, you send someone out with a $100 bill to McDonald's and buy everybody sandwiches."
The singer, who, at 462 pounds, enters Season 15 as the heaviest competitor, says he and the others on "The Biggest Loser" are already learning that, in order to eat healthfully, they have to make the time to prepare their own food.
"The biggest takeaway I want from this experience is just how to be a better me," he says. "I've already accomplished more in my life than I ever expected to ... I said I wanted to be a national recording artist, and I did that. It took a lot of hard work. It took me 23 years to get there, but I got there. And after I got there, and after I got to that point, I started working with that, and not really taking care of [my body]. I want to leave [the "Biggest Loser" ranch] knowing they're both equally important."
And about the rest of the contestant pool for the "Second Chances"-themed season, it also includes:
- David Brown, a widower from Oklahoma who wants to get healthy for his daughters
- Restaurant franchise chief operating officer Tanya Whitfield, a single mom and a food addict who was raised by a drug-addicted mom and wants to break her family's cycle of addiction
- Olympic weightlifter Holley Mangold, from Ohio, who wants to be in top shape for a gold medal bid at the 2016 Olympics
- Matt Hooper, a retail manager from Georgia who postponed his wedding to be on the show and get healthier for his fiancée
- Rachel Frederickson, a voiceover artist from Los Angeles who gave up her position as a nationally ranked swimmer in exchange a relationship that ultimately failed, and who now wants a do-over on living her dream life
And there's good news for fans who have wished the network would shorten those filler-packed two-hour episodes every week: NBC announced this week that most Season 15 installments of "The Biggest Loser" will run for only one hour.
Another potentially fun change for the new season: Each "BL" trainer — Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, and Dolvett Quince — will get a "Trainer Save" in which they can spare one eliminated contestant from going home.
Harper talks about the new season's changes:
"The Biggest Loser" Season 15 premieres on Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. on NBC.
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- Ruben Studdard
- American Idol