John Rhode was making the rounds on talk shows in New York City on Wednesday morning after shedding 220 pounds and winning the title of The Biggest Loser.
And as the Kennewick native chatted with the Herald about the reality show experience from the streets of New York, people kept stopping to ask for his autograph.
"Sorry for all the interruptions," he told the Herald. "I can't believe how many people know who I am. It's mind boggling."
Rhode, 41, won The Biggest Loser crown during the NBC show's finale Tuesday night. And to say he was thrilled would be an understatement.
"This is all absolutely exciting," he said. "So far, I've been on the Today show, Live with Kelly and the Wendy Williams show this morning. Anne Curry (Today host) was so cool. Everyone has been wonderful. I feel so blessed."
Rhode maintained a confidence through the show's Season 12 that he would prevail as the biggest loser. But on Tuesday night, as he stood on the official scale, there was a troubled look on his face.
"You bet I was worried," he said. "But I've been worried at every weigh-in during the months of this show."
He also admitted he still has challenges ahead to keep his weight off, but that his life has been changed forever, psychologically as well as physically.
"You don't go through a dramatic change like this without making sacrifices, and I am committed to living healthy and staying alive," he said.
Rhode credits his wife for being the real champion in the family.
"She held down the responsibilities at home, taking care of the kids, paying the bills, giving me the freedom to embark on this quest," he said.
Rhode is a 1988 Kennewick High grad, and his wife Jill is a 1986 graduate of Richland High. Her parents are Chris and Gwen Christensen of Richland, and John's mother Hazel Rhode still lives in Kennewick and his father is deceased.
Rhode was a football coach and special education teacher at Desert Ridge High School in Arizona when he made the decision to try out for the show.
The 6-foot-4 Rhode weighed in at 445 pounds when the show began in September. As the weeks progressed, he broke the record for most pounds (101) lost halfway through the season. The record to beat was 100 pounds in the first six weeks.
He also finished third during the show's marathon that earned him another $7,500, which is in addition to the $250,000 grand prize.
Rhode's journey on The Biggest Loser also had its share of rivalry, especially toward the end when a few competitors challenged his lead.
But that only seemed to bring out Rhode's competitive nature as he pushed himself harder and harder.
"It was sheer determination to change my life and never losing sight of my goal that prevailed," he said. "But I never could have done this alone. Bob (Harper, one of his trainers) infused me with a confidence I never knew I had, or maybe forgotten I had."
Rhode plans on making a trip home to visit his mother on New Year's Eve.
"I am so grateful to my hometown fans for staying with me through this," he said. "I'm anxious to see home again."