Biggest Loser moves Bob Harper, casts only athletes

The cast of The Biggest Loser‘s 16th season are all athletes, including former NFL players Damien Woody and Scott Mitchell, while trainer Bob Harper will not be working with them at the ranch, instead demoted to a position where he works with the losers to give them a second chance.

Meanwhile, after Rachel Frederickson’s extreme weight loss last season, producers won’t change anything. Executive producer Dave Broome told NBC’s Today.com, “There’s nothing different about (the upcoming season) than we’ve ever done. If anything went wrong (last season), if anything was broken, we would have fixed it. But that didn’t happen.” Despite her appearance, he said, “Rachel did nothing wrong. She broke no rules. She passed every medical exam that this show has.”

NBC today announced the cast and changes, which include a new subtitle: The Biggest Loser: Glory Days. While the press release says “contestants will work with new trainers Jessie Pavelka and Jennifer Widerstrom, as well as veteran trainers Dolvett Quince and Bob Harper,” it later points out that Bob Harper will be:

“in an exciting new role, giving contestants a second chance at life on the show. Just when the eliminated contestant each week thinks they are headed home, they will actually be whisked away to a secret location called Comeback Canyon. There they will be trained by Harper, competing at a separate secret weekly weigh-in for the chance to return to the competition and a shot at “The Biggest Loser” title and $250,000 grand prize.”

I refer to this as a demotion in terms of his participation in the competition, not his actual job, because that’s what it sounds like; even if this second-chance competition is different than the relatively marginalized second-chance competitions other shows now have, such as Top Chef‘s Last Chance Kitchen, his role is now limited to working with the cast members who’ve been voted out.

Here’s the full cast, per NBC:

  • Jordan Alicandro (Former high school baseball standout; currently regional sales manager), 32, Surrey, BC, Canada
  • Rondalee Beardslee (Former high school basketball, football and softball player; currently nursing student), 28, New Lothrop, MI
  • Blake Benge (Former high school soccer, track standout; currently student), 18, San Clemente, CA
  • Howard “Woody” Carter (Former Arena League football player; currently car salesman), 46, Las Vegas, NV
  • Toma Dobrosavljevic (Former high school soccer, football, volleyball, baseball player; currently senior project manager), 33, Addison, IL
  • Zina Garrison (Gold medal winning tennis player; currently professional tennis coach), 50, Hyattsville, MD
  • Rob Guiry (Former rugby player; currently Head Rugby Coach, 26, Western New England University), Springfield, MA
  • Gina Haddon (Former cheerleader; currently make-up artist/photographer), 41, Rowlett, TX
  • Lori Harrigan-Mack (Three-time Olympic gold medal winning softball player; currently director of security for a Las Vegas hotel), 44, Las Vegas, NV
  • Vanessa Hayden (Former WNBA basketball player; currently a child welfare specialist), 32, Orlando, FL
  • Sonya Jones (Former All American softball player; currently PE teacher/coach), 39, Springfield, IL
  • Chandra Maple (Former high school softball, basketball standout; currently optometric technician), 26, Dodge City, KS
  • Matthew Miller (Former high school football standout; currently business entrepreneur), 31, Grove, OK
  • Scott Mitchell (12-year NFL veteran quarterback; currently bill collector), 46, Mapleton, UT
  • Emmy Lou Munoz (Former high school softball, volleyball and track and field standout; currently teacher), 32, Woodson, TX
  • Mike Murburg (Former Princeton University football player and wrestler; currently an attorney representing the disabled), 58, Darby, FL
  • John “JJ” O’Malley (Former Arizona State University football player; currently bouncer), 22, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Jackie Pierson (Former high school basketball MVP; currently clinical care coordinator), 36, Pacifica, CA
  • Andrea Wilamowski (Former high school cheerleader; currently Vice President of Operations, Detroit Pride Cheerleaders), 43, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
  • Damien Woody (Two-time Super Bowl champion; currently an ESPN analyst), 36, Mendham, NJ

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.