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Vick Pleads Guilty, Faces Prison Time

Aired August 27, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight...

MICHAEL VICK: I'm more disappointed in myself than anything, because of all the young people, the young kids that I have let down who look at Michael Vick as a role model.


KING: Michael Vick, a $130 million quarterback, facing the possibility of hard core prison time -- maybe up to five years in a federal pen, after pleading guilty in court today in the dogfighting case that has shocked America.


VICK: What I did was very immature, so that means I need to grow up.


KING: How much time will he spend behind bars?

And will the Atlanta Falcons superstar ever play in the NFL again?

Should he?

The debate heats up.

And then...




You lost 70 pounds.


KING: Millions rooted for them as they lost hundreds of pounds to win "The Biggest Loser".

But will they keep the weight off after the moment of primetime fame?

See for yourself, as past winners join us, along with the soap opera star who is the reality hit's new host. She's been fighting her own weight loss battle.

It's all next on LARRY


Easily the most talked about story in America, Michael Vick.

We begin with our opening panel and then a new panel will join us, as well.

Mark Geragos, the defense attorney, is with us here in Los Angeles.

Stacey Honowitz, the Florida assistant state attorney, is in Miami.

Trent Copeland, another outstanding defense attorney, is also here in L.A.

And Pam Bondi, the Florida assistant state attorney, based in Tampa, joins us from there.

Can you briefly explain to us, Trent, what this meant.

He pled guilty, but the judge doesn't have to go along with the terms the prosecutor agreed to, right?


Look, Larry, there are sentencing guidelines in the federal system. And in this case, you know, Michael Vick could receive five years in federal prison. Now, he made an agreement with the prosecutors. In exchange for him pleading guilty, the prosecutors say hey, look, we'll tell you what, you plead guilty, we'll recommend a sentence somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 18 months in federal prison.

Now, this federal judge, under sentencing guidelines in the United States is not bound by either the guidelines nor is he bound by that agreement that Michael Vick made with the prosecutors. So he could go five years. He could go 12. He could go less.

KING: Pam Bondi, why would the prosecutor make that agreement?

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Oh, I think it was a very favorable plea for the prosecution, Larry, and here's why. They have pretty much guaranteed prison time. This judge isn't going to go below 12 to 18 months. They also have no trial, no appeal. He cannot withdraw his plea. And in the federal system, once he's released from prison, he will be on a minimum of two to three years supervisory release, which in our state system is called probation. So I think they're very pleased with this plea deal. And as Trent just said, that judge could very well give him five years in prison and he can't withdraw his plea.

KING: Mark, was the key to this the fact that the other witnesses or potential defendants all pled out?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The old expression we can either hang separately or hang together. And usually it's a race to the prosecutor's office to see who is going to roll first. And he didn't get there first and that's, consequently, as soon as everybody else folded up tent, he had nowhere to go.

KING: If this were not Michael Vick, Stacey -- how big a deal would this be if it were John Jones running dogfights?

HONOWITZ: Well, you wouldn't hear about it. That's the difference. You certainly would only see this is a high profile case -- it's all over the national news -- because of who he is.

Would it be a big deal?

It would be a big deal, but nobody would know about it. And in this case, he did get a nice deal, and I'm sure he's cooperating very nicely with the prosecutors. He's probably agreed, at this point, to turn in any rings that he knows, to break up any dogfighting rings. And he's going to have to cooperate with the prosecutors prior to his sentencing.

KING: Michael Vick held that news conference today. You saw a glimpse of it.

Here's some more of what he had to say.


VICK: It was immature, so that means I need to grow up. I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick, the person, not the football player. I take full responsibility for my actions. For one second will I sit -- not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and try to blame anybody for my actions or what I have done.

I'm totally responsible and those things just didn't have to happen.

I feel like we all make mistakes. It's just I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions.


KING: Trent, is he not a sympathetic client?

COPELAND: You know, I looked at this, Larry, and I've seen this news conference a couple of times now. And he could not have come off better. I mean, you know, look, he spoke from the heart. There were no notes. I think it resonated with people that this is a guy who made a bad choice and, you know -- and I'm a little surprised at some of the people who want Michael Vick hung. I really am.

I think if we take a one big step back and we ask ourselves, in the scheme of things -- now, clearly, and I'm not supporting dogfighting and I'm not advocating...

GERAGOS: You're about to get...


GERAGOS: You're about to get (INAUDIBLE)...

COPELAND: Yes, I know. I know.

GERAGOS: avalanche of e-mails, let me tell you.

COPELAND: And I'm suggesting that...

GERAGOS: There is -- if you even suggest...

COPELAND: ...there is anything wrong. But what I am saying is that should this man's life be forever ruined as a result of the mistakes that he made in terms of dogfighting, in terms of breeding dogs to fight each other, should his life be ruined?

Should he lose his $130 million contract?

You know, look, I've got some difficulty with this, Larry.

KING: We have an e-mail question. Pam, it relates right to what Trent just said. It's from Connie in Sun Valley, Idaho: "Could Michael Vick's punishment include some kind of behavioral rehabilitation? Could he be required to work in a Humane Society clinic or something like that?"

What do you think, Pam?

BONDI: Well, I hope he doesn't get anywhere near dogs, Larry. But, yes, I think his supervisory release will include quite a bit of community service hours where he will have to do things that are beneficial to the community. Whether or not they will allow him with animals is another story because, of course, we know he tortured these dogs.

And I agree with Trent. I hope he has changed his life. But I think he absolutely should have lost his $130 million contract because it's more than an immature act. He tortured and brutalized these animals.

KING: Well, should he be allowed to come back?

Let's say he does two years, he comes back. The Atlanta Falcons won't sign him, but if the NFL permits him to come in, should a team sign him, Mark? GERAGOS: At the present time, there isn't -- the mother of the owner hasn't been born that's going to resign him. There -- I said before and I think most people who do this have never seen the amount of vitriol and hatred directed at somebody as there has been at Michael Vick over this case, which is amazing because ultimately the government is going to be recommending somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 months for this sentence that people -- when you talk to people about this case, they get more upset about this case than serial child molesters.


GERAGOS: People are more upset about this...

COPELAND: You wouldn't know it, Mark, by the sentencing. I mean there were more supporters at that sentencing than there were detractors.

GERAGOS: Well, that's...

COPELAND: I mean there were people -- look. And I'm not saying those are the hard core fans necessarily...


COPELAND: ...but I think that some people have stopped and I think we've taken a deep breath here and I think people have said, you know, look in the calculation of things, this is an awful, awful behavior.

GERAGOS: Except you wait and see what happens tomorrow...

COPELAND: It's terrible conduct.

GERAGOS: ...when you open up your e-mails. You're going to get e- mails from everybody in the world telling you...

COPELAND: No, but listen, I'm not suggesting...

GERAGOS: ...that this is...

COPELAND: I think it's awful.

GERAGOS: There is a...

COPELAND: I think it's awful.

GERAGOS: This is...

COPELAND: And I'm dog lover.

GERAGOS: ...there is a hang this guy so high.

I have two dogs and I love them.

COPELAND: Yes. GERAGOS: They're dumb as dirt, but I love them.

KING: Trent?

Trent and Pam, thanks to you both. We'll have you back.

BONDI: Thank you.

KING: And when we come back, we're joined by some of the top sports journalists in the country.

What do they think of Vick's future on and off the field?

As we go to break, more of his mea culpa today.


VICK: I once again offer my deepest apologies to everyone. I want to apologize to all the young kids out there. I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding. I take full responsibility for my actions. I'm totally responsible. And like, you know, we all make mistakes. You know, I offer my deepest apologies to everybody out there. I accept the responsibility for my actions and what I did and now I have to pay the consequences.



KING: We're back discussing the Michael Vick matter.

Mark Geragos, defense attorney, and Stacey Honowitz, Florida assistant state attorney, remain with us.

We're joined now in Nashville by Harrison Forbes, the host of "Pet Talk," the nationally syndicated radio show. He's been a dog trainer and a behavioralist for more than two decades.

In South Bend, Indiana, Stephen A. Smith, the ESPN analyst, host of 1050 ESPN Radio in New York.

In Washington is James Brown, my old friend, the host of CBS's "The NFL Today."

And in Syracuse, New York is Tim Green, the former defensive end with the Atlanta Falcons, a close friend of Michael Vick's, a best- selling author and commentator. I think I've read all his books.

His book, by the way, "Football Genius," has a back cover blurb from Michael Vick.

We'll start with you then, Tim.

What do you make of what happened to your friend?

TIM GREEN, NEW NOVEL "FOOTBALL GENIUS" HAS MICHAEL VICK QUOTE ON BACK COVER: Well, first of all, it's not correct to say that he and I were close friends, but I did know him through my work with the Atlanta Falcons over the years and knew him to be a kind, soft-spoken person. I was one of the people that was saying let's -- everyone is innocent until they're proven guilty.

He, I believe -- I, along with a lot of other people, believed that when he said he was innocent that he was innocent. And it turned out that I'm gravely disappointed, as are a lot of people -- Falcon fans, NFL fans and people that knew him.

It's horrible. It's horrible what he did and it hurts.

KING: Stephen Smith, do you think he's going to get -- is he going to get what he deserves?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, COLUMNIST, ESPN ANALYST: I don't think there's any question about that. He's definitely going to be incarcerated for at least a year, from our understanding. There's no argument. It's clear that he deserves that and everybody is anticipating, Larry, that he may end up getting suspended for at least another year after he comes out of jail. So there's no question in my mind that he's going to get that and there's no question in my mind that he does deserve that. He broke the law. He knew he was breaking the law.

He lied to the Atlanta Falcons. He lied to his teammates. He lied to the commissioner, Roger Goodell. He lied to everybody and he openly admitted that.

My heart goes out to his family, there's no question about that. But when you do all of those things, you do the crime, you've got to do the time.

KING: Yes.

James Brown, what do you think?

JAMES BROWN, HOST, "THE NFL TODAY": You know, I'm in agreement with what Tim and Stephen said, Larry.

Look, as I watch Michael Vick, there have been so many conversations that have taken place in back rooms, in living rooms and pubs all around America about it. I wanted to finally hear from Michael Vick.

And much as the gentleman, Mr. Copeland, mentioned earlier, I was very appreciative of the fact that he didn't read from a prepared text, that he spoke from the heart. He prefaced his remarks with that he's not a public speaker and I thought that he showed remorse and contriteness.

I wrote a vignette for "Sporting News Radio," as I do every day, and the title of mine was "I Take Him At His Word."

He's going to pay the price. What he engaged in was horrific in terms of the collective treatment of the dogs.

But let's see how it plays out from here. But, again, the bottom line is I take him at his word that there is genuine remorse.

KING: Harrison Forbes, are you shocked at the public reaction to this?

HARRISON FORBES, "PET TALK" RADIO HOST, DOG TRAINER FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES: Somewhat. You know, I think you're going to see the whole polarization of -- you've got all the animal rights people that are going to always go after Mike Vick for the rest of his career. But I think he did himself a good favor today. I mean he came off very well when he did the speech and I have to say I believed him. I mean I softened up on him a little bit today.

I mean he's going to get deserved punishment.

You know, my question is, all the animal rights people that are just after, you know, what's the best thing in justice for the dogs out there, you know, nobody is asking the questions of whatever happened to the other co-defendants?

What's their sentencing?

Nobody is asking that. And I think that's -- that needs to be answered.

KING: Let's take a look at more of today's news conference with Michael Vick.



VICK: Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I didn't reject it. I've upset myself and, you know, through this situation, I found Jesus. And, you know, I asked him for forgiveness and has turned my life over to God. I think that's the right thing to do as of right now.

And like I say, for this entire situation, I never pointed the finger at anybody else. I accept the responsibility for my actions and what I did. And now I have to pay the consequences for it. But, in a sense, I think it will help, you know, me as a person. I've got a lot to think about in the next year or so.

You know, I offer my deepest apologies to everybody out there in the world who was affected by this whole situation.


KING: Can he get his life mark, Mark Geragos?

GERAGOS: Yes, he can. I mean there's -- America, the one great thing about America is people like redemption. Once we've torn people down, we generally like to see them built back up again and come through it and admit their mistakes.

And, you know, the watchword in the criminal justice system is remorse for the past and plans for the future. He's shown remorse for the past. If he does and puts together some kind of a charitable or humane good works kind of a program for the future, even while incarcerated, no matter what that might be, I think people will welcome him back.

I just think the problem is there's -- unless he does that, it's very unlikely that some owner is going to step up immediately when he gets released and sign him.

KING: Stacey, the prosecution is out of it now, right?

HONOWITZ: Well, the prosecution is not out of it, because they're going to debrief him. You know, in exchange for this guilty plea and for the low recommendation of 12 to 18 months, there was probably an agreement between them that you will help us, you will do substantial assistance in trying to break up other rings.

So all along, he's going to have to have contact with the prosecutor. And I think it's great that he came out and he apologized for everything that he did. But you have to understand something, Larry, you know, that's -- there's strategy involved in a lot of this, too. He hasn't been sentenced yet. And to go out there and to express his remorse and to say he's sorry and to apologize, you know, his lawyers are telling him that's going to fare very well for you when you go into front of the judge so that he doesn't depart from the recommended sentence.

So he did himself a favor today and in the hopes that when it comes time for sentencing, the judge is going to know that there is remorse.

KING: We'll ask our panel if he should be allowed to play again when we come back.

A quick remind their our newest pod cast is available online.

Tonight it's Bill Maher and you can access it by going to or going to iTunes.

More on the Vick case when we come back.


HANK AARON: I'm a football fan. I've never seen anybody who has so much ability and has fallen so far.

WAYNE PARCELLE, HUMANE SOCIETY: I don't believe that you can contain this sort of violent instinct. If you're going to do this to dogs, you're a threat to the larger community.

CHUCK SMITH, NFL ANALYST: Part of the problem with Michael Vick he was never held accountable.

ANDREW YOUNG, FORMER ATLANTA MAYOR: When you get knocked down, you have to get up and figure out where the next play is going to be. BOW WOW, RAPPER: And I don't think the city and the football league, it probably won't be the same. And we lost, probably, one of the -- if not the most exciting football players in the league.



KING: Tim Green, a good e-mail question from Mary in St. Louis, Missouri: "What I can't understand is why. Why would Michael Vick, a man with talent, money and fame, do this? Why would he and his buddies want to watch innocent animals fight to the death?"

Why do you think, Tim?

GREEN: Well, I can't explain that. I didn't, you know, I wasn't in his shoes and I didn't grow up in the world that he grew up in.

But I would say this. One thing that's really important about the NFL and about the commissioner's decision as to whether or not he's allowed to ever come back and play -- and I'm a person who believes in second chances and forgiveness -- but, on the other hand, the NFL is a violent game. And there's so much violence on the field -- and that's part of it. But it's also a critical part of the league and everything around it, that the players who play that way on the field, when they walk off the field, they turn that switch off and they don't participate in criminal acts, especially in violent criminal acts. And that's what that was.

KING: Well put.

Stephen Smith, an e-mail question from Samantha in Memphis: "I'm in no way for dogfighting, but why single it out for punishment? Isn't hunting a form of animal cruelty, too? Why isn't there an outcry against NFL stars who hunt and kill animals?"

SMITH: Well, their response to that is that it's illegal. The fact is dogfighting is illegal. That's the argument that she needs to take up with the federal government. And certainly you can understand why people, in their emotional state of mind, would feel that way. But the reality is, is that it is against the law and Michael Vick knew it was against the law.

It's not like he went up to the federal government and said I'm doing it and wanted to debate whether or not it should be unlawful or what have you. He knew it was against the law. He did it anyway and that's the particular situation that he now finds himself in.

I thought his speech today, Larry, I thought he showed a level -- a tremendous level of contrition and I think he needs to be credited with that. And I'm glad he's being recognized for that.

But the reality is, is that it was nothing but flat out stupidity on his part, more so than anybody else, because when you consider the fact that there was a 10-year, $130 million contract that he signed, $37 million signing bonuses and roster bonuses and all of that stuffy, Larry, and here you are involving yourself in dogfighting, where they're betting and exchanging $25,000, $26,000, $34,000.

I mean aside from the immoral or the amoral portion of it all, from a monetary standpoint, how stupid can you be?

KING: James Brown, should the league take him back?

BROWN: Larry, I think what's important here is the consistency and the application of the law. Michael Vick will pay his debt to society. He will serve jail time. And just like any other citizen, once they have paid their debt to society, they should come out and be allowed to earn a living, as well.

Let's hope...


BROWN: And I understand all the vitriol that folks are spewing his way. I understand that with respect to the collective treatment of the dogs.

If there is genuine remorse and contrition and he's paid his debt, he absolutely should be allowed to earn a living, just as any other citizen would, after they have paid their debt to society, as well, too.

Now whether someone will take a chance on him, again, time will tell based on how he handles that and the steps that he goes through. But I certainly believe that he ought to be given that opportunity like any other citizen, yes.

KING: Harrison, you host a show dealing with dogs.

Is this widespread, to your knowledge?

FORBES: I think it is. You know, there's been a lot of talk about it being kind of a Southern cultural thing. And I think there's a lot of that that still goes on in the South.

I think one of the things you've got to understand is the mindset of a lot of these guys that are dogfighters. If you went up to them and asked them, they would say they love their animals. There's a little bit of a disconnect -- almost kind of like of a farmer that raises chickens and cows and feeds them and provides medical care for them and shelter and then takes them off to slaughter.

I think a lot of these guys feel like this is what these dogs were designed for and there's just kind of a disconnect when it comes to putting them down or getting rid of them. It doesn't make sense to the rest of us, but in their world it does.

KING: What will the judge give him, Mark?

GERAGOS: You know, by all accounts this judge is...

KING: He's tough. GERAGOS: not only tough, but a lot of times will reject the agreements. Even if the prosecution is saying we're going to recommend at the low end, even if he's got a lot of contrition, even if the prosecutor comes in and says, hey, besides that, he's also doing what they call a 5K. He's cooperating. It would not surprise me if this judge came in and said look, I think two years or two-and-a-half years is more appropriate here.

And you have to remember, he's got co-defendants. And so whatever the co-defendants get, he's got to -- he's got to balance that, as well.

KING: Who wanted to say something?

SMITH: Larry, I wanted to say something. A lot of people need to recognize something. They better pay attention to this, too.

You look at Michael Vick. You can sit there and talk all of this stuff that you want to about, you know what he -- the judge and he's plead and all of this stuff.

It's not New Jersey. It's not New York. It's not Chicago or L.A. or something like that.

It's the Commonwealth of Virginia. It's the southern part of Virginia -- not just Virginia, but the southern part of Virginia.

You take that into account, trust me when I tell you, everybody believes that that is going to factor in the equation in terms of what ruling the judge is going to come down with.


KING: All right, are you referring racially?

SMITH: Absolutely.

HONOWITZ: Oh, come on.

SMITH: No. No question.

HONOWITZ: Absolutely not.

KING: Stacey, you say no?

SMITH: I'm saying, people are going to -- people are...

HONOWITZ: I mean, listen -- listen.

SMITH: You...

HONOWITZ: When we were -- when we talked about this last week, somebody brought up the fact that this is a racial issue.

This is not racial. No one should try to make it a racial issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't say it was racial.

HONOWITZ: Or that there -- the judge is going to treat him differently because he's an African-American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not what Steve was saying.

SMITH: No. That's not what I'm saying.

HONOWITZ: The judge is going to look at this case...

KING: He didn't say...

GERAGOS: He didn't say racial, but what he did say is a very astute observation, which is you're in the southern portion of Virginia.


GERAGOS: Virginia is also in one of the most conservative districts and circuits in this country, if not the most conservative. And you -- to get hammered there is not unheard of. In fact, it's more than likely as to what happens.

KING: We're going to be doing a lot more on this...

SMITH: Thank you. KING: ...probably tomorrow night.

Thank you all very, very much.

We'll pick right up on it.

When we come back in our second half, the couple who found weight loss and love on the hit TV show "The Biggest Loser".

Are they still looking slim and trim?

We'll find out and we'll talk with the daytime TV star turned primetime hostess who knows firsthand what it's like to win at the weight loss game.

Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You stop right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You will not doubt me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want any more excuses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.




KING: Welcome back. Time for season four of NBC's "The Biggest Loser". It premiers on Tuesday, September 11th, the reality series has a new host. She's with us, Alison Sweeney. She's one of the stars of "Days of Our Lives" and she's also waged a real life battle with her own weight question. During the course of the reality series 18 overweight contestants are challenged to take off pounds through a comprehensive diet and exercise program. They compete for a grand prize of $25,000 and the title of the biggest loser.

Joining us initially is Alison Sweeney, the host, and Bob Harper, one of the fitness trainers on "The Biggest Loser" and Kim Lyons, another of the fitness trainers. What's your role, Bob?

BOB HARPER, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": Well, in the beginning of the show I get six contestants, and I am just trying to get them to not only get weight off and change their lives. I mean, I think that's what it's all about for me from the very beginning.

KING: Where do you this, in L.A.?

HARPER: We're shooting this season in Camarillo, so we are very far away in Camarillo.

KING: How long are the overweight people with you?

HARPER: They are with us for up to about four months.

KING: Whoa.

HARPER: If they are not eliminated they will be there for four months and then they have a three-month period when they are off and then we come back for the live finale so it's about a weight loss of about nine months.

KING: And Kim, your role?

KIM LYONS, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": I'm also a trainer on the show and I train the red team. Bob has the blue team. So basically it's the same role with different people.

KING: Your role is to get them to lose weight?

LYONS: Get them to lose as much weight as they can in a healthy way and just basically to teach them how to change their lives. You know, it's not just about losing weight. It's about teaching them how to lose the weight and keep it off and maintain those lifestyle changes.

KING: Alison, tell us about becoming the host.

ALISON SWEENEY, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": It was definitely an experience. I've been an actress most of my life and doing a reality show is very different. It's you up there. It's not a character you're playing. So ...

KING: Who contacted who and how did it come about?

SWEENEY: The producers contacted me and asked me if I'd be interested in taking over the hosting job, and I was the new girl this season.

HARPER: She's a perfect fit.

KING: Had you seen the show?

SWEENEY: I was a big fan of the show before so I knew what I was getting myself into though, of course, actually doing it is very different from watching it on TV at home.

KING: Have you been shooting already?

SWEENEY: We just wrapped.

HARPER: We just wrapped.

KING: So you're done.

HARPER: We're done.

KING: So you already know who the new winners are?

HARPER: No because the finale happens at end.

LYONS: The four finalists.

HARPER: The four finalists, and everyone else has an objective to lose their weight, continue to lose their weight for the finale.

KING: And you've had your own weight problems, Alison?

SWEENEY: I definitely struggle with my weight. I think most women or most people know what it feels like to look in the mirror and not be happy with what you see in some way or another and I'm not going to pretend to know what it's like to go through what the contestants have been through when they get to that point when they join the show but it is a struggle when you're an actress in Hollywood and you see actresses who are definitely thinner than I am and it's a challenge.

HARPER: This season we have not only the oldest contestant ever in "The Biggest Loser" history, we have a 62-year-old contestant. We have twins this season, we have the largest contestant at 421 pounds so this whole season is going to be crazy.

KING: Does doing the show help you?

SWEENEY: Absolutely. Eating a meal next to Bob definitely keeps me in check.

KING: For two contestants the second season of "The Biggest Loser" wasn't just about the diet and exercise. It was about finding love. Take a look.


SUZY HOOVER, REALITY SHOW CONTESTANT: Our relationship didn't start right away when we met on the show.

MATT HOOVER, REALITY SHOW CONTESTANT: We couldn't stand each other. She thought I was a mean jerk and I thought she was annoying and was too happy, and we started spending more and more time together and talking on the phone and it progressed from there.

S. HOOVER: We were supposed to go do an exercise segment on "The Today Show."

M. HOOVER: She has no idea our relationship is about to get a little closer I hope.

I'd like to give this to you and ask you to be my wife.



M. HOOVER: People talk about having their fairy tale wedding or their dream wedding. We got ours. It was just one of the greatest days of my life.


KING: Joining us now in Seattle is Matt and Suzy Hoover and their little baby son Rex. They met as contestants in season two of "The Biggest Losers." He won and she finished third. They married in September of 2006, and along came Rex. How much weight did you lose, Matt?

M. HOOVER: For the show I lost 157 pounds.

KING: Have you kept it off?

M. HOOVER: I've kept off nearly 100 pounds for two years now.

KING: Suzy, how did you do?

S. HOOVER: Well, on the show I lost 95 pounds, and I did pretty good at keeping it off until I got pregnant.

KING: What about after pregnancy?

S. HOOVER: Well, we're working on it, Larry. I've got about 40 pounds I want to take back off.

KING: How did this relationship develop, Matt, since you didn't like each other at first?

M. HOOVER: Yeah, you know, being on the show for me was a life changing experience, beyond the weight loss was the changes that I went through and for me Suzy was annoying and happy because I was angry and bitter about what I used to be when I was younger and how I gained all this weight and it was everybody else's fault except for mine and she always seemed pretty happy about it and she a annoyed me and so I'm like what's up with the girl and towards the end of the show when the weight started to come off and I started to realize I could be a new person, you know, we started talking and talking and talking and then fell in love and here we are a whole little family. It's been quite an experience.

KING: Suzy, how long did it go from talk to more than talk?

S. HOOVER: Well, we just started talking at the end of the show and then we had to be separated and go home so we had a lot of time at home to - well, I was nervous thinking is he still going to like me but then at the finale when we came together it was like oh, yeah, this is still real so I think it progressed pretty quickly because then he -- we got engaged in March just four months after the finale, so -- and then married six months later.

KING: Not bad. Coming up, last season's biggest loser weighs in with his thoughts on the show and the big question, has he been able to keep things scaled down since his big win? We'll find out next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you did it! Yes!

You're the biggest loser! Congratulations! Congratulations!


KING: If you just joined us, our panel is Alison Sweeney, the new host of "The Biggest Loser." She's also on "Days of Our Lives."

Bob Harper is one of the fitness trainers on that program. He's a fitness specialist and lifestyle personality as is Kim Lyons one of the fitness trainers as well as a writer and model. In Seattle is Matt and Suzy Hoover and their little baby son Rex. They met as contestants of season two of "The Biggest Loser." He won and she finished third and they married in September of 2006. Joining us now in New York is Erik Chopin, Erik was the winner of last season's "The Biggest Loser." He was last season's winner and was very dramatic. Let's take a look at his story.


ERIK CHOPIN, REALITY SHOW CONTESTANT: Before being on "The Biggest Loser" I was in denial of how heavy I got. My scale at home couldn't tell me what I weighed. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and I felt so desperate.

After losing all this weight, all these things fell by the wayside. My cholesterol is normal, my blood pressure is normal. My diabetes is in control. I'm healthy now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My initial reaction when I saw Erik is I was looking back in time. I saw someone that I hadn't seen in such a long time.


KING: It's your return visit to LARRY KING LIVE. Joining us in New York is Erik Chopin, he was with us last December. He won last season's "The Biggest Loser." What did you weigh when the show started?

CHOPIN: I was that seasons the heaviest contestant at 407 pounds.

KING: What did you weigh when it ended?

CHOPIN: I got down to 193. I was able to go below 200.

KING: What are you now?

CHOPIN: I'm about 225.

KING: Why did you go back up?

CHOPIN: Well, it's very competitive, you know. Bob and I set a really high bar for myself, you know. We first said let's go for 200 pounds and I got to it and I just kept going. I wanted to win the show, and -- and, you know, maintenance is a challenge and I will admit that, but I've maintained a 34 waist. I was a 34 waist at the finale, still a 34 waist, and I was a 54 waist when the whole process started, a 5X t-shirt and I'm still wearing a size large. I think I wanted to get to a comfortable weight. I'm pretty comfortable here, but this is a challenge, as I mentioned, and I have to take it day by day.

KING: Isn't there a danger when you start to creep up? Don't you get worried?

CHOPIN: Oh, extremely worried. The fear is am I going back the way I was, and I've learned too many things to let that happen, you know. You think back on how hard it was, the blood, the sweat, the tears, such a difficult process, and there's no way I can go back to that.

KING: Is it hard for you, Matt?

M. HOOVER: Yeah. You know, one of the things that I think that I didn't think about during the show is how I would see myself after I lost the weight, and I think a lot of people that lose weight have a tendency to do that where they see themselves with this new body but they really still see the fat person that they were, and, you know, so when you start to gain a pound or two here or there, you think oh, it's OK. I know how to lose it, but it's been very important for me to stay on top of that because I'd be trying out for season five or six if I didn't stay on top of it.

KING: Suzy, tough for you?

S. HOOVER: Yeah. Like I said, I worked really hard until I got pregnant, and I'm an all or nothing girl and once I got pregnant it's like, well, I can't be all so I kind of went a little nothing. So now I'm trying to find that balance though because you can't live your life all or nothing so what's the balance? That's what I'm trying to find.

KING: How does someone get on the show, Alison?

SWEENEY: Well, we actually are casting right now, so can you go to the Web site at and "The Biggest Loser" Web site.

KING: What do you have to be, just overweight?

SWEENEY: Yeah. We actually are very careful in our casting process because we want to make sure the people are healthy enough to do the fitness routines and we talk a lot about the mental aspects of the game, not just the game but the weight loss. We want people to want to change their lives and want to do it for themselves and want to be a part of it.

HARPER: And have a story to tell.

KING: And the winner gets $250,000, right, Kim?

LYONS: Yes. And a new life.

KING: And the losers get nothing?

LYONS: No. Actually, they do have a second -- I believe there's a second and third place prize.

SWEENEY: Every person who goes there has a new life.

HARPER: Exactly, so everyone that gets on our show has a chance of becoming a winner.

KING: They live in bunks?

HARPER: This season -- this season we're back to the basics. It's going to be a campus style, and they are living in barracks.

LYONS: It's rough this year. There's no $100 million ranch definitely. It's roughing it. But that's what it's all about. Weight loss, they are relearning how to live their life in a healthy way.

KING: Soledad O'Brien is sitting in for Anderson Cooper and she will host AC 360 at top of the hour. She's in New Orleans. Soledad, what's up?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Hey, Larry, thanks.

We're here in New Orleans, in fact, to highlight in part along with Spike Lee some pretty amazing stories that have been told by children who survived the hurricane in their own words with their own cameras that we gave to them. We're going to lead things off though tonight with Michael Vick. He said he was sorry today for running that dog fighting operation. We'll take a look at some of his legal prospects and tackle the question of what to do about pit bulls and the nation's top law officer, Alberto Gonzales is out. We're going to talk about what fallout comes next from his decision to step down. All that is ahead this evening, Larry. We'll see you then.

KING: Thanks. Always good to see Soledad O'Brien who will sit in for Anderson Cooper from New Orleans at the top of the hour. More with our panel of losers, if they should pardon the word. When we come back, we'll take some of your phone calls, so stick around.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to be a pretty good athlete.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won a state title when I was thin. I was the guy to be around, the athlete.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should just kick ass for two hours.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My problem is you think you're so much worse off than what you believe. This show offers such a life-changing thing. It's so emotional and I never would have thought it.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This season, there's a third team, the black team, and you won't believe who is here to train them. Jillian Michaels (ph) is back, and she's tougher than ever. The black team training secretly off campus, and when they return they will send a shock that will bring the red and blue teams to their knees.


KING: The black team.


HARPER: We have a third team this season.

KING: Sounds menacing.

LYONS: To say the least.

KING: Let's take a call. St. Augustine, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, I just wanted to let you know I'm a huge fan of the show and of "The Biggest Loser." My question is for the couple with the baby, Matt and Suzy. KING: Matt and Suzy.

CALLER: My question for them is I know they've worked really hard to lose this weight and I know what it's like because I'm overweight, too, but what are they going to do to make sure that they continue to do the things they learned on the ranch and keep their child from having the same problems that they did?

M. HOOVER: That's a great question. Actually before Rex was even born we bought a running stroller. Suzy and I go for walks with Rex almost every day. He's been camping. We take him out to be active, and one of the things that I've learned being a new dad from Rex watching him grow up every day is that we have a chance to begin every single day brand new and learn something new, and he's going to be watching us, and the fact of the matter is we have to be role models, you know. It doesn't matter that we were on the show two years ago and that we lost all that weight. He doesn't know us as that. He knows us as mom and dad, and we're going to take him out playing, you know, mountain biking, everything we do, we do with him. You know, we have more than enough baby equipment to take him on all types of terrain, boating. He's going to be an active boy because we're not going to allow him to have to go through what we went through together.

KING: Well said. Indianapolis, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. First off, I want to say how much of an inspiration you guys have all been. I stumbled upon your show over the summer and was watching the season two in reruns, and since then I've lost 42 pounds, since May, which is like 20 percent of my body weight, and in big part to you guys, so thank you very much for being there and being an inspiration. But my question was is, you know, I've lost 42 pounds in three months which is a lot of weight, but how are you guys losing, you know, 10, 12, 15 pounds in a single week?

KING: How do you do that, Erik?

CHOPIN: I would say that while I was out on the ranch my job was to lose weight. When you're at home you still work, you still have things to do, day-to-day errands, all kinds of things that can distract you. When we're on the ranch that's all we did. We worked out and we focused on our diet so you were doing a scaled-down version of what we've done and our routine is just going to be that much more extreme.

HARPER: And our reality show is an extreme situations, it's a cause for extreme measures so you're going to lose that much weight when your job just like Erik said is to work out for six to eight hours a day which is not how people normally live their lives. When you're losing a couple pounds a week and you're trying to lose weight, that's the kind of weight that you would normally lose.

KING: Isn't everybody there dedicated?

LYONS: It's hard to be that dedicated, you know, especially when you have kids to take care of, you have jobs. You have so many outside stress factors in life that when you come to "The Biggest Loser" that's your 100 percent focus. People think that we make them their meals and, you know, we guide them through the workouts. There's still a lot of stress there. It's still a competition and it's a stressful environment for them, but at the same time they are 100 percent focus is on weight loss. And yeah, absolutely, they are dedicated. It's not easy for them, but they are dedicated. This is a very long process, and it's amazing to see them just spiral off their success.

SWEENEY: And I can vouch they actually learn to make their own meals. They are in the kitchen by themselves learning how to make chicken breasts and very healthy food.

HARPER: I've been in the show since season one and it's so funny to see the people from the very beginning being like where's the chef? Who are the people that are going to like do my laundry? I'm like you're going to do all of that.

KING: Suzy, what was the hardest part for you?

S. HOOVER: The hard part for me was being around -- out of my comfort zone, and I think that's what makes you have to change and grow so quickly is you're on your own. You don't have your family. You don't have your friends. You have to just focus on you, and that was something I'd never done before. I was really good at helping this and doing this and kind of ignoring myself and kind of when I was on the ranch just having to focus on me was a little uncomfortable, and growing and changing every day. It was like oh, gosh, here I'm learning something new about me so that was hard.

KING: Erik, did you miss the deli?

CHOPIN: The deli was a lot -- the deli was a lot of work, but I wanted to say, the experience is such a life-changer. Just today I was at the Bronx Zoo. I was walking with my family throughout the park, and it's a huge -- the zoo is huge. It's many square miles, and it was not a job for me. My fitness level is just still so great from my experience and the things I learned with Bob, and I just consider myself lucky each day and so glad for the experience and I won that prize and people think I'm just saying it, but would I have done it for free because, you know, here I am with my daughter, my four-year- old on the shoulders walking through all day and she was skipping on the exercise so I should have watched that but it was a joke for me.

KING: That's great. We'll be back with our remaining moments. Great story. Right after this.


SWEENEY: I started working on "Days of Our Lives" when I was 16 years old. A lot of people asked me about my struggles with weight loss because I was overweight on TV and then I lost weight on TV. It's something I personally have experience with. "The Biggest Loser" is the best example of a weekly reminder that you don't have to give up and you don't have to settle for what you have right now, and if you're unhappy, you can change. You can. I am really excited to go through this experience with you.'


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighteen will compete, but only one will take home $250,000.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just need to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm asking you to stop right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not doubting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't want any more excuses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.




KING: Hey, Bob, the obesity rate in this country is alarming. President Clinton has talked about it a lot, children.

HARPER: Yeah, almost 60 percent. Obesity is growing in children on a daily basis. I mean, I feel like that's why I feel so fortunate to be able to work on a show like "The Biggest Loser" because it just puts a light on this situation and gets people to think, gets people to -- you have every option now to try to do what you can do to change this.

LYONS: It's such a great question the caller had, too, about as a parent, I have a son, too. I think about it all the time, giving my kid the right tools from day one to be able to learn good eating habits.

KING: Matt and Suzy, stay strong.

M. HOOVER: We will.

S. HOOVER: Thanks.

M. HOOVER: Real quick ...

KING: A nice fit child.

M. HOOVER: Real quick I want to talk about one of the most overlooked people on the show is the trainers, and when you have that, it makes the weight loss seem so much easier when you have that knowledge and at home seek that out. At the X Gym (ph) in Seattle we have that chance to have that power to change and have someone help you along the way. Our trainers do great things for us and, you know, I have to say that the trainers on "The Biggest Loser" Bob and Kim have done an amazing job the last couple of years with their people.

KING: Thank you all very much. Erik Chopin, continued good luck.

CHOPIN: Thank you.

KING: You're doing great.

Before we go, just a reminder to check out our Web site Can you download our newest podcast. It's Bill Maher or submit Web cam questions to one of our show guests. The whole world can see you ask it on the air. Or if you're camera shy you can e-mail your questions to upcoming guests and weigh in on any hot topic by participating in our quick votes. You can even sign up for our newsletter. There is so much. It is all at

And now let's head to New Orleans. Soledad O'Brien sitting in for Anderson Cooper and AC 360. Soledad?