Meet the Biggest Loser 15 Contestants, Including American Idol Ruben Studdard and Olympian Holley Mangold

“I deserve to live a happy and healthy life,” said The Biggest Loser season 15 contestant Tanya Winfield. Achieving a happy and healthy life is a big part of the upcoming season of The Biggest Loser. This year, it’s all about second chances. From a former American Idol to an Olympic athlete, season 15 of The Biggest Loser is providing its contestants with a second chance at the kind of life they want to live.

For these men and women, it’s going to be quite a change from what they are used to. “I came in thinking I was an athlete and realized that didn’t mean anything,” said contestant and Olympic weightlifter Holley Mangold.

biggest loser 15 contestants

Most contestants agreed that the most challenging part of being on The Biggest Loser is the workouts with the trainers. “The trainers are what they are. They are here to do a job. They are personable and want you to get in shape, but their main goal is to change our lives,” contestant and American Idol Ruben Studdard said. All three trainers, Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, and Dolvett Quince, return this season to help the 15 men and women on their weight loss journeys.

“We have a really good group of people. We’ve got people that are really willing to see themselves for what they are at the very beginning, which is they don’t have the ability, but they have that drive, that want,” trainer Bob Harper said.

biggest loser trainers and alison sweeney

For the first time ever, the trainers helped select the contestants, but they will also get to save them. Each trainer has one “save” this season, where they can reverse an elimination and keep a contestant on the ranch who they think deserves it. It’s an exciting first for the show.

Trainer Jillian Michaels added that the contestants change more than their physical appearances. “You don’t just see a physical transformation; you see the emotional transformation; a completely different self-image, self-worth. That to me makes all the hardship worth it.” Season 15 of The Biggest Loser premieres on Tuesday, October 8 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

jillian michaels 468


Craig Arrington
Age: 30
Occupation: Warehouse Supervisor for Pharmaceutical Company
Hometown: Wilson, North Carolina

craig biggest loser 15

Craig has tried losing weight before, but has struggled to keep it off. “Before now I’ve been able to lose weight, losing weight is not the problem. Maintaining is the hard part,” he told us during week one. At a starting weight of 385 pounds, Craig hopes he can lose the weight and maintain the loss. His weight caused problems in the past when trying to conceive his first child, and he now considers his family his primary motivation.

Jay Sheets
Age: 38
Occupation: Marketing Associate for a Food Company
Hometown: Farmington, Missouri

biggest loser Jay

After being overweight his entire life, Jay realized his weight was a problem when it prevented him from doing what he loves – competing in rodeo. At a staring weight of 297 pounds, Jay hopes that he can lose the weight, compete again, and provide motivation to others. “If I can help just one person out there I think that would be the most awesome thing in the world, most awesome feeling in the world.”

Bobby Saleem
Age: 28
Occupation: Attorney
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

biggest loser bobby saleem

For Bobby, losing weight is an important part of his career. As an attorney, Bobby said his “aha moment” came when he “hulked” out of his clothes right before a trial. At a starting weight of 358 pounds, Bobby’s goals are to be able to find clothes that fit as well as gain confidence and health. “I want to be the best Bobby that Bobby can be.”

Jennifer Messer
Age: 42
Occupation: Clerk/Bookkeeper
Hometown: Abingdon, Virginia

biggest loser jennifer

The mother of two daughters, Jennifer gets her motivation from her family and they are the reason she is on Biggest Loser. She feels she has lost sight of herself and lost control of her weight. For her, the biggest accomplishment will be no longer feeling burdened. “I’m excited about feeling free,” Jennifer said. Her starting weight is 266 pounds, a physical and mental burden that she is ready to remove.

Tumi Oguntala
Age: 41
Occupation: Brand Strategist
Hometown: Clifton Park, New York

biggest loser tumi

Tumi has struggled with her weight for some time, being able to lose a little only to gain it back. “I have been successful with small amounts of weight loss,” she said. At 319 pounds she is looking to achieve a healthy body weight without distractions. “Before I didn’t have the level of discipline and mental focus to do that in my day-to-day life.”

David Brown
Age: 43
Occupation: Project Manager for Construction Company and Social Commerce Leader for Phone Company
Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma

biggest loser david brown

After losing his first wife of nine years to brain cancer, David began gaining weight. Now remarried, he is ready to lose the weight in order to keep up with his wife and three daughters. “I’m adding positive time to my life,” he said. “To be here is the opportunity, the second chance, the next wave of my future.” His starting weight is 409 pounds.

Marie Pearl
Age: 30
Occupation: Senior Staff Accountant at a Community College
Hometown: Springfield, Missouri

biggest loser marie pearl

Motivated by her desire to start a family, Marie comes to Biggest Loser after struggling with problems conceiving. At a starting weight of 249 pounds, Marie said she has been overweight her entire life. She is ready to lose weight, become healthy, and start a family. “I just turned 30. If I ever want a chance to have a family with my husband then I’ve got to do this.”

Rachel Frederickson
Age: 24
Occupation: Voice-over Artist
Hometown: Los Angeles, California

biggest loser rachel

As a state-ranked swimmer in high school, Rachel never worried about her weight. After quitting the sport when she was 18, she started gaining weight and currently weighs 260 pounds. Tired of just dreaming about change, Rachel said that she is too young to feel tired, achy and alone. “I feel like I’ve hid myself and let the weight take control. I want to gain back the control of my life,” she said. Once Rachel loses weight, she is looking forward to socializing and finding confidence.

Hap Holmstead
Age: 26
Occupation: Sales Consultant/Entrepreneur
Hometown: Pleasant Grove, Utah

biggest loser hap holmstead

The father of two daughters and brand new baby boy, Hap hates feeling limited by his weight. “My second chance is for longevity. My goal is to be as fit as I can be,” he told us during week one. At a starting weight of 403 pounds, Hap said his weight has fluctuated for most of his life. Now, he wants to lose the weight and keep it off so he can be around for his family in the future.

Chelsea Arthurs
Age: 28
Occupation: Clinical Research Professional/Event Planner
Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

biggest loser jay sheets

Chelsea started gaining weight at 16, turning to food for comfort and not working out. Now at 241 pounds, she has decided it is time to take control of her life and health. “I just want to be a more confident person and just feel good about myself,” she told us. Chelsea hopes to become a kickboxing instructor, “to really inspire others,” and be the woman she’s always wanted to be.

Matt Hooper
Age: 38
Occupation: Retail Manager
Hometown: Georgetown, Massachusetts

biggest loser matt hooper

Matt has postponed his wedding to be on Biggest Loser because he said his bride deserves the best version of him. “This is the only thing that would make me postpone my wedding,” he told us. “This is the opportunity for life. I’m going to trade four months and I’m going to get 50 years out of it. For me it’s a no-brainer, anyone would take that bet.” At 356 pounds, Matt feels that his poor diet led to weight gain. Once he loses the weight, Matt looks forward to getting married.

Tanya Winfield
Age: 41
Occupation: Chief Operating Officer of a Restaurant Franchise
Hometown: Plainfield, Illinois

biggest loser tanya

Motivated by her 2-year-old daughter, Tanya is hoping to lose weight and set a good example for her children. “I realized I’m addicted to sugar. I’m addicted to food. So I’m here for my second chance to raise my daughter, my baby,” she said. She has been overweight her entire life, and has a starting weight of 262 pounds. Beyond changing her lifestyle for her children, Tanya wants to find confidence, fall in love and remarry.

Fernanda Abarca
Age: 32
Occupation: 3D Animation Artist/Cake Sugar Artist
Hometown: Montrose, California

biggest loser fernanda

Fernanda is ready to change her life. After being in shape through her early twenties, she started gaining weight at 25 and now weighs 250 pounds. She credits the weight gain to a lack of exercise, bad habits and simply not taking care of herself. Once she loses weight, Fernanada looks forward to living life to the fullest. “I’m hoping to have more confidence in myself, to be that woman I always wanted to be…to not be afraid of what people are thinking of me.”

Holley Mangold
Age: 24
Occupation: Olympic Weightlifter/Caterer
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

biggest loser holley

Overweight her whole life, Holley felt that her weight didn’t have much impact on her weightlifting success. After competing in the 2024 Olympics, she decided that she wanted to compete to the best of her ability, and that meant losing weight. “I was training for the Pan-American Championships and I was also training for the World University Games. I pulled out of those competitions to come on Biggest Loser,” she said. At a starting weight of 351 pounds, Holley wants to get in shape to compete in the Olympics in Rio in 2024.

Ruben Studdard
Age: 35
Occupation: Singer
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

biggest loser ruben

“Velvet Teddy Bear” Ruben was a surprise cast announcement earlier this summer. As the first celebrity on The Biggest Loser, Ruben said he was motivated to lose weight when he realized he wasn’t getting any younger. “My motivation is seeing myself differently…my motivation is to change the person I see inside and out,” he told us. Overweight for most of his life, Ruben’s starting weight is 462 pounds. In addition to losing weight, Ruben hopes to become a healthier person.

jillian michaels 468

Also Read:

VIDEO: Dolvett Quince at Biggest Loser 13 Finale

5 Biggest Losers Complete the Ironman Triathlon

Which Boy Band Burns More Calories?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *