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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Prospective contestants stand in line for Saturday's "Biggest Loser" casting call.

SALT LAKE CITY — Contestant hopefuls for "The Biggest Loser" started circling the KSL-TV studios at the Triad Center about 2 a.m. Saturday, waiting for a chance to tell their stories to casting directors for the NBC reality show.

More than 160 people were in line when the doors opened just before 9:30.

A promotional VIP ticket allowed Jamie Ellis to show up at 9 a.m. and be part of the first group of interviews at 9:30. Others weren't so lucky, circling Triad in the dark at 2 a.m. until they saw enough people milling about to feel safe parking their car and starting a line outside about 3:30 a.m. Members of one group said they drove in yesterday from Denver.

"I told my husband 'Third time's a charm,' " said Joann Perez, who was also part of the first group to complete the initial screening. "It was just neat to meet people," Perez said.

Similar comments came from the very back of the line, where Jennifer Owen of Orem said today's tryouts are also her third. "I thought about wearing a shirt that says 'The third time is a charm.' "

Owen and her sister, Heather White, and friends Lynsey Mitchell, April Hoagland all went through the tryout process after spending several hours in the hot sun outside.

Their own experience and conversations going on around them in line suggested many in the group have auditioned before, and most were faithful watchers of the NBC reality TV series.

"It really is an inspiring show," Hoagland said. "I think they really get into your deeper life issues."

Owen said she believes people who have tried many methods for losing weight are drawn to the show because the public nature of the process makes it so hard to bail out. She compared it to her experience in the military, where "everyone has nights where they cry themselves to sleep and wonder why they did this."

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She and her friends agreed there are too many people quick to be judgmental about why a person is overweight; and too many retailers willing to enable those who need to lose weight. "It would also help if Walmart would stop selling bikinis in plus sizes. Nobody should be subjected to that."

"The Biggest Loser" has found great casting success in Utah. Four Utahns were in the show when the season started in January, included Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner, who lives in Logan.

About 500 people came through the line during the day. Casting directors said all participants who will be called back for a second look would be notified by Saturday evening.

E-mail: sfidel@desnews.com, Twitter: SteveFidel