The Biggest Winner

Game Show Helps New Jersey Dad Drop Pounds And Rediscover His Passion For Life And Hockey

In the agonizing final seconds of the most recent “The Biggest Loser” season finale, Stephen Kmet could only watch as the scale ticked down the weight of Roberto Hernandez, the last man that stood between him and the $250,000 grand prize. At that moment a strange but comforting thought popped into his mind.

An avid fan of the New Jersey Devils, Kmet thought back to the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs where his beloved team lost a hard-fought but heartbreaking seven-game series to the dreaded New York Rangers, who would go on to capture their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.

Just like the Devils, this 43-year-old pharmaceutical sales manager from Hainesport, N.J., stood before a live television audience knowing that he had left it all on the ice. Or in this case the gym floor.

“As much as it sucked losing, I don’t have any regrets. I don’t think that I could’ve done anything else,” says Kmet, who dropped 133 pounds and 43.04 percent of the weight off his 309-pound frame.

“All I kept thinking about on the stage was how this reminds me of ’94. It was heartbreaking but the Devils had to be proud of their accomplishments. And the next year they won the Cup.”

Unfortunately, there is no next season for reality television contestants, but Kmet has something more. He has his life back.

A big part of that is the ability to return to the ice. Throughout the course of the show he continually demonstrated his passion for the game, at one point celebrating the loss of nine pounds because that mirrored his hockey number.

Kmet didn’t pick up the game until his early teens when the Devils came to town in the early 1980s. He fell in love with the game and played four or five times a week with his club team at Albright College.

A big kid growing up, it wasn’t until Kmet was laid off from his job and his father was diagnosed with ALS that things began to spiral out of control. He stopped playing hockey, and thanks to a steady diet of fast food and soda his weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds. That’s when he and his wife, Jacky, decided to try out for “The Biggest Loser.”

“I didn’t go on the show to win money; I went on the show to be a better role model for my kids and to obviously lose weight,” he admits. “If you would’ve told me when I started that I would be a finalist and lose 133 pounds, I would’ve told you that you were nuts.”

Kmet credits a hockey mentality for his success, which spurred him to keep working hard and “grinding it out” until the final episode.

“One thing with hockey is that lunch pail mentality,” he says.

“I took that mentality and said I’m going to do what my coach said, work hard every single day and not complain.”

Now that he has his life back in order, Kmet knows that hockey will play a prominent role as he continues to live a healthy lifestyle. That new life started several days after the prime-time finale aired on NBC when he walked into the Aspen Ice Rink in Flemington, N.J., to rejoin his Aces teammates for an adult league game.

“When I walked into the locker room I felt like a celebrity, I felt like a superstar,” says Kmet, who had to find gear that would fit his svelte new frame. “That’s just my home, the locker room. It’s that feeling of win or lose, there’s a brotherhood among hockey players.”

Not only is he back on the ice, Kmet looks forward to teaching his 6-year-old son, Jack, to play the game that he loves.

“Maybe it’s from watching the show and hearing me talk about it, but it just lights me up that he wants to play,” he says. “I’m looking forward to watching him play and sharing my love and passion for the game that’s part of me and was missing for a long time.”

While his days on “The Biggest Loser” may have come to an end, Kmet knows that the real game is just beginning.

Issue: 
2016-04

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