'The Biggest Loser' gets even bigger

allisonsweeney_thebiggestloser_s8_290.jpgThe ninth edition of "The Biggest Loser" will feature one of the show's largest casts ever -- in more ways than one.

The NBC series will kick off its new cycle Tuesday, Jan. 5 with a return to the "Couples" format, with 11 two-person teams of family members competing to see who can shed the most pounds. The 22 people taking part in show matches the number of people who began season 7 at the ranch (season 3 had contestants from all 50 states, but only 14 stayed on camera at the ranch while the other 36 lost weight at home).

The show will also feature its heaviest contestant ever. Michael Ventrella, a 31-year-old DJ from Chicago, began the show at 526 pounds. He's competing with his mother, Maria.

Twin brothers James and John Crutchfield of Orlando, meanwhile, weigh in at a combined total of just under 1,000 pounds (James is 485, John 484). Both brothers and Michael Ventrella weigh more than the show's previous heaviest contestant, Shay Sorrells, who began the fall season at 476 pounds.

Host Allison Sweeney and trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels will return for the new season.

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Photo credit: NBC


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