Winning the “Biggest Loser” title and $250,000 could lead to a new career in either nutrition or fitness, Wheeling's Danni Allen said Tuesday.
Or, the veteran of choral groups at Mundelein High School could even turn to show business.
But right now Allen said she's too overwhelmed to make long-term decisions, and she's grateful that her two employers in Lincolnshire are giving her time to process her victory Monday night on the finale of the NBC weight-loss show.
“So many doors are open to me now,” Allen said Tuesday in a telephone news conference. “The money has bought me the gift of time. I will evaluate my life and see what new things I can try and find out what I really want to be.”
What the 26-year-old does see in her immediate future is a vacation somewhere she can wear her first bikini. She and Jeff Nichols, the Michigan resident she bested by 1 pound, agreed that the winner would treat the other to a well-deserved trip. And she'll invite Francelina Morillo, the girlfriend that Nichols met during the competition.
“I'll be the third wheel,” Allen joked Tuesday morning on NBC's “Today.”
“I'll find my guy out there, since I'm single and everyone says I'm hot now.”
Allen, who lost 121 pounds to show off a fit 137 pounds on the finale, sees running in October's Chicago Marathon as a goal that will help her keep in shape now. She is also scheduled to do a Subway TV commercial with Jared Fogle.
But Allen has always loved to sing. She performed the national anthem last month at a Mundelein Mustangs swim meet in the new pool at Mundelein High School.
John Neubauer, director of choirs at Mundelein High School, said Allen was an energetic and important part of the Lights, a female show choir that started competing Allen's sophomore year.
Neubauer said Allen was not as heavy in high school as the 258 pounds she weighed when the “Biggest Loser” season started and doesn't think her weight gave her problems.
“She could sing, and that's what I was concerned about,” he said.
He thinks she might be a good enough singer to go pro.
“After this experience, I can't see why she can't do anything she wants to do — with willpower like that,” Neubauer said. “Making it as a singer is a certain percentage luck, and at least she has a little publicity behind her.”
Allen was always upbeat and a leader, said Jon Larson, the general manager of Viper Alley in Lincolnshire who hired her about a year ago to tend bar part-time.
“I have a feeling she's not coming back to the bar,” Larson said, “but we told her when she started this ... that she would still have a job.”
During “The Biggest Loser,” Allen had a party one night at the club to show family and friends her progress.
“She did seem to have a little bit more confidence,” Larson said. “She was bubbling.” He said some friends asked Danni where she wanted to go for fun, and she suggested a spin class.
People at her full-time job as an advertising coordinator for Camping World and Good Sam Club have been just as supportive, Allen said.
Svetlana Light, a friend from Glenview, said Allen's inspiration spread beyond her family and to her friends.
“I lost 30 pounds,” Light said. “Ever since I found out she was going on the show I decided I really have no more excuses.”
Allen's personality is so impressive that Light, who met her four years ago, did not really notice her weight.
“She has always been the nicest, most fun person to be around,” she said. “I don't think she has a mean bone in her body. She's always been beautiful and full of life, and I don't think this will change her in any way except more people will get to know how amazing she is.”
Allen joked Tuesday that warmer climes look better when you don't have an extra 100 pounds to buffer the cold weather of the Chicago suburbs, but it's a mundane issue that will keep her in Wheeling at least another year.
“I had to make a quick decision before the finale, and I signed a lease, so I'll have one more year in my apartment,” she said.
Throughout the show, Allen emphasized her improved self-confidence as the true benefit, and learning to believe that she is deserving and can succeed.
But the weight loss had other rewards, too.
She loved showing off her muscular, toned arms in the stunning one-shoulder red sheath by Halston Heritage she wore for the finale.
“I put it on and I knew,” she told reporters. “My theme song is 'Girl on Fire.' I tried on hundreds of dresses with friends and family.”
And then there's the fact that she traded in size 20 jeans for size 4.
The show's experts taught her about nutrition, motivation and exercise.
But, “the most important thing I learned is that you really do have to get your head on straight,” she said. “You have to do it for yourself; it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.”
And the woman who asked “Why me?” when good things came her way has a new motto: “Why not me?”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.