Bernie Salazar, <EM>The Biggest Loser: Couples</EM> Bernie Salazar, The Biggest Loser: Couples

In a finale upset, eliminated 27-year-old Biggest Loser contestant Bernie Salazar won the $100,000 prize by a single pound over Massachusetts family man Mark Kruger. The Chicago teacher weighed in at 153 pounds, a loss of 130 pounds from his 283 starting weight. Calling from his cell phone on the day after the taping, Salazar was still in a state of shock.

TVGuide.com: You were the surprise winner of the night, beating Mark Kruger by just one pound.
Bernie Salazar: That’s an understatement. I just know that I gave everything that I could. I definitely surprised myself. To me that's what this whole show is about, surprising yourself and realizing that you can do anything that you put your mind to.

TVGuide.com: What will you do with your winnings?
Bernie: My mom’s [house] has been hit with flooding, so we’re going to get her set. I’ve got student loans I want to pay off, and I’ll put the rest toward starting my future. A little apartment would be great.

TVGuide.com: Will you take the summer off before heading back to the classroom?
Bernie: I just finished graduate school. [I’ll be receiving] my master’s degree in educational curriculum design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I’m [graduating] May 8. Then my plan is to work on children’s television programming.

TVGuide.com: Which Biggest Loser workouts will you never do again?
Bernie: I was scared of everything, but now I feel I can do any of them. I completely love spinning. It hurt the very first time I did it — the first 10 times — but it's something I love now.

TVGuide.com: Now that you don't have a public weigh-in to hold you accountable, how will you stick with it?
Bernie: I'm participating in a lot of charity-type walks. I'm doing a 5K race at the end of this month for the March of Dimes. I joined a local gym, which [in the weeks before the finale] provided me with a trainer who worked me just as hard as Jillian [did] every day. The owner there was just super-supportive and checked in on me all the time. I went from being on a team on the Biggest Loser ranch to a wonderful team back in Chicago.

TVGuide.com: On a scale of 1 to 10, how tempting is a Boston cream pie now?
Bernie: It’s still a 10. Definitely. It’s a constant challenge, but I’m not scared of challenge or temptation. I’ve found a way to cope.

TVGuide.com: Speaking of cheating, if any of the teams were to have used laxatives or some other form of weight loss, what team would you suspect would do that, and why?
Bernie: I didn't see anybody capable of taking it to that extreme. Maybe I'm naive. But the show is so adamant about doing it right, not doing it quickly. There's medical staff, and we get urine tests before we weigh in. They took blood tests. The show is so on top of anything that if anybody was doing that they'd get a warning and, likely, a disqualification.

TVGuide.com: Are you saying it would be impossible for someone to cheat?
Bernie: It would be darn near impossible. I was so beat up after a long day's work that I had no energy to think about anything else. I would think everybody else was the same way.

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