Ruben Studdard joins 'Biggest Loser' cast for fall

Former American Idol contestant Ruben Studdard performs during Former American Idol contestant Ruben Studdard performs during taping of the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in Atlanta. (April 19, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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A winner is joining "The Biggest Loser": Season two "American Idol" champ Ruben Studdard will be among the competitors when the weight-loss show returns to NBC this fall.

People magazine said Monday that Studdard, 35, who has weighed as much as 455 pounds, would be part of season 15, which premieres Oct. 8. An NBC spokeswoman confirmed this to Newsday, adding, "We'll be releasing more information closer to the premiere."

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Studdard, nicknamed the "Velvet Teddy Bear," has had weight issues for years. After winning "Idol" in 2003, he put on 100 pounds, according to The Associated Press. He later shed about 70 pounds by participating in a Duke University weight-loss program and going vegetarian.

"I basically had to change my thinking and as it pertains to the foods I wanted to eat, he told "Today" in October 2006, explaining, "On both sides of my family, I have a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure and things of that nature. I just wanted to basically combat those issues at an early age. They've never been an issue for me, but I wanted to do it while I was still young, and felt like working out and looking great."

That same month he met Surata Zuri McCants, and the two married in June 2008. After they separated in November 2011 and subsequently divorced, he put on weight once again. Appearing on "The Wendy Williams Show" in March 2012, he explained the gain was due to stress eating because of the divorce and a $100,000 tax bill from the IRS that he was working to pay.

Studdard, who has released five albums, was nominated for a Grammy for male R&B vocal performance for his 2003 single "Superstar."

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