The cast of NBC's "The Biggest Loser: Couples" was shocked Tuesday night when Olympic gold-medalist wrestler Rulon Gardner announced he was leaving the show.
In 11 seasons of "The Biggest Loser," this is the first time a contestant has left the show voluntarily.
"I went on the show to get my life and my health back, and I have accomplished my goal," the Logan man said in a statement released Wednesday.
"Once I reached my goal and started feeling like my old self, I felt compelled to return home and support my wife, Kamie, in the ongoing management of our personal and professional affairs."
Gardner had said in a recent "Biggest Loser" episode that he weighed almost the same as when he won his gold medal.
"Another exciting outcome is that I am strongly considering a return to competitive wrestling," he said in Wednesday's statement.
Gardner was thought to be a frontrunner to win the NBC reality show. On Tuesday's episode, he said he was leaving for "personal reasons."
Gardner, who won a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, lost 173 pounds during the show's run. He entered the weight-loss competition weighing 474 pounds.
The show's trainers and cast said they were surprised by Gardner's announcement.
"When Rulon announced he was leaving, I was completely shocked. It was a shock to everybody," contestant Kaylee Kinikini, of Shelley, Idaho, said in a conference call Wednesday.
"I know Rulon very well and we're really close, and I knew he was having problems at home and he was struggling," she said. "I know he was just ready to go home."
Gardner's teammate on "The Biggest Loser: Couples" was Justin Pope, a friend and Logan resident who was eliminated from the contest six weeks earlier.
There was more Utah news during Tuesday's show: Kinikini, who was eliminated from the competition this week, said she was dating another eliminated contestant, Ogden's Vance Jackson. They started dating while working out with Pope in Logan.
This season's "Biggest Loser" included six competitors with Northern Utah ties -- Gardner; Pope; Jackson; Jackson's mother, LeAnn Jackson, of Ogden; Denise Hill, of Bountiful; and Hill's daughter and Woods Cross High School graduate Sarah Nitta, of Las Vegas.
None remain on the show.
Those eliminated are still eligible for a $100,000 prize, given to the one who loses the most weight by the May 24 finale; an incorrect amount was listed in an article published Wednesday.
NBC officials say Gardner is not eligible for that prize.