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Next season of 'Biggest Loser' is the heaviest

By Cynthia Wang,
The contestants on the next season of "The Biggest Loser" are the largeset yet.
The contestants on the next season of "The Biggest Loser" are the largeset yet.
  • The ninth season of "The Biggest Loser" features its heaviest competitors yet
  • A 30-year-old deejay from Chicago, Illinois is the heaviest competitor ever at 526 lbs.
  • The first episode of the new series premieres January 11

( -- Last Tuesday, Danny Cahill became the biggest 'Biggest Loser' ever when he dropped 239 lbs. in seven months to win the eighth season title.

Now, as NBC goes back to a couples edition of the series, the contestants and the challenges they face get bigger as well.

On January 5, "The Biggest Loser: Couples" premieres with 11 teams of two competing for the Season 9 crown. Among the players are Michael Ventrella, a 30-year-old deejay from Chicago, Illinois -- who at 526 lbs. becomes the heaviest contestant ever on the series -- and his is mother, Maria, a 51-year-old corporate travel agent.

"I would do anything for Michael," his mom Maria, who starts at 281 lbs., told PEOPLE. "At first I didn't think I could do it because I have too many responsibilities at home. I have a husband who is disabled, my mom in a wheelchair, a full-time job, home cleaning -- it's a lot. But then he needed it so bad and so I am here, and I need it for myself, too!"

The Ventrellas are one of eight parent-child duos on the show this season.

Attorney Melissa Morgan, 39, and her husband Lance, 38, a rancher, hail from Aspermont, Texas, and are both interested in losing weight and saving their marriage.

California-based cousins Sam Poueu, 24, and Koli Palu, 29, were inspired by the success of Tongan cousins Sione and Filipe in season seven and hope to do the same for the people and culture of American Samoa.

Orlando, Florida, identical twins James and John Crutchfield, 30, weighed in at a combined 969 lbs. "I'm glad I'm here," James said, "because my only other alternative is surgery."

Here are the other teams vying for a $250,000 winner prize or $100,000 at-home prize:

Mom Patti Anderson, 55, a business owner, and daughter Stephanie Anderson, 29, a radio sales executive, from Lafayette and West Hollywood, California.

Mom Cherita Andrews a 50-year-old homemaker and daughter Vicky Andrews, a 22-year-old student from Houston, Texas.

Mom Miggy Cancel, 48, a Pemberton, New Jersey chef and daughter Migdalia Sebren, 28, a homemaker from Sanford, North Carolina.

Mom Cheryl George a 50-year-old store-owner and son, Daris George, 25, a salesman, from Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Father O'Neal Hampton, Jr., a U.S. Postal Service station manager, 51, and daughter SunShine Hampton, 24, a restaurant server, from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Father Darrell Hough, a press operator and mechanic, 46, and daughter Andrea Hough, a 24-year-old executive assistant from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Mom Sherry Johnston, a 51-year-old non-profit administrator and daughter Ashley Johnston, a 27-year-old manager and esthetician from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Also, season seven's Tara Costa will return to to blog for season nine!

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