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Hundreds of people auditioned for “The Biggest Loser” in Salt Lake City over the summer. However, Jackson Carter, a Weber State University
student, was the only one to make it onto the show. He is a contestant on Season 14 of the show, which started yesterday and also airs today.
Carter credited his clothing choice for why he was one of the people to get a callback.
“I have this bubblegum-pink blazer that I wore that I think automatically clicked with them,” he said. “They saw the bright-pink blazer and it stuck in their minds.”
Carter is a theater major and a social work minor at WSU. Along with being a student, Carter also volunteers at Ogden OUTreach, a center that helps LGBTQ youth. He said the youth he helps are the reason he wanted to be on the show.
“I have been a role model for teenagers at the Ogden OUTreach Center for years now, and I have been able to be an incredible role model for them in every way except for health,” Carter said. “Our mission statement states that we want to have these kids live happy and healthy lives, and I was not able to help them lead a healthy life.”
Carter said he grew up watching “The Biggest Loser” and that he and his family are die-hard fans of the show, having seen every episode. However, he said that having seen the show did not prepare him for the challenges he faced as a contestant.
“I thought I was prepared, but there’s really no preparing for this,” Carter said. “I just didn’t understand how hard the work was actually going to be and how hard you had to push yourself every single day. It didn’t matter if you passed out and threw up and your whole body hurt and was covered in blisters; you had to get up and do it again, every day.”
Carter is the first openly gay contestant the “The Biggest Loser” has featured. While he was auditioning, the casting directors asked him what he thought it would be like to have an openly gay contestant on the show. Carter said it would be just like having an openly straight contestant.
“I didn’t think it would make a difference,” he said. “But now that I’m on the show, I realize what an opportunity I have to show young gay or young transgender people that there are good queer people in the media.”
Carter said he plans on eventually watching the show. While home for the holidays, Carter said, he realized how big the show’s fanbase actually is when he found messages all over his Facebook wall and gained new Twitter followers every hour.
“While I’m filming, it never really occurs to me that what I say and do, 22 million people are going to see, because all I see is one man and a camera,” he said.
Claire Heman, who met Jackson in high school at the DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts, said she plans on watching “The Biggest Loser” now that Carter is on it.
“I’m pretty stoked for him,” she said. “I know he needed and wanted to make a big change in his life . . . this was a perfect moment for him.”
Rachel Sweet, a WSU sociology major, also went to high school with Carter.
“I’m really excited,” Sweet said. “He told me right after his first audition. He said he didn’t want to get his hopes up, but I knew he was going to get on it.”
Carter said he does not know what he will do when the show is over. After being on the show, he said, he has become interested in film production, but might also finish his degree at WSU or try to get a job acting.
Ogden OUTreach will be hosting a watch party for “The Biggest Loser” episode today, 7-9 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater.