A larger-than-life local figure’s losing ways has him halfway towards winning a huge cash jackpot.
Bay Ridge resident Will Millender, 26, recently embarked on a 10-week, 550-mile walk from Boston to Washington as part of the new reality show “Fat March,” in which 12 super-sized contestants lose weight to win cash.
The show’s filming wrapped up in July and Millender is back in Bay Ridge — but he’s sworn to confidentiality.
On Aug. 6, he was spotted at the Wicked Monk on Fifth Avenue near 84th Street, kicking back some drinks while watching his reality television debut.
It’s reality TV at its best. Unlike other weight-loss shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Celebrity Fit Club,” contestants on “Fat March” aren’t battling each other but trying to become one big band of brothers.
If they stay together by the end of the walk, they share a $1.2-million pot — but every time someone drops out, or is voted out for slowing the others down, the pot is reduced by $100,000.
Predictably, the tall task had taken its toll on the oversized contestants.
By this week’s episode, the walkers had already marched the 230 miles from Boston to Times Square, but the group was down to nine losers.
But Millender was still on the march.
Millender told The Brooklyn Paper that ABC does not allow him to give interviews while the show is still airing, but those who saw Bay Ridge’s newest reality star say his weight loss looked dramatic.
“He actually looks like a different person,” said Bridget Lysiak (yes relation), who saw Millender strolling on 86th Street near Fourth Avenue. “The man could have easily lost 100 pounds.”
Millender weighed in at 474 pounds before the march. He was down to 424, a loss of 48 pounds, in the weigh-in at the end of Monday’s episode.
Of course, shedding those pounds in such a quick amount of time had its price.
“On top of a weird muscle pain in my chest area, I also had a bit of chafing under my belly which cause me an extreme discomfort,” lamented Millender on his blog at realitywanted.net.
“After a visit to the bathroom, the pain of that, combined with how I had been feeling for the day, caused an unexpected emotional outburst and subsequent blackout.”
Trial, tribulations, and even a slice of celebrity are nothing new for Millender, who has battled his weight for several years, and whose image can still be found on storefront posters across Ridge for his first place showing at the Fifth Avenue pizza-eating contest last June at Rocco’s Pizzeria (Millender was cheered to victory by a huge crowd that included a once-legendary eater, the now-slimmed down Borough President Markowitz).
He ate 10 slices in the regulation 12 minutes. The performance made him a legend.
“Fat March” airs Monday nights at 9 pm on ABC.