The jobless winner of a weight loss reality TV show who shed 144 lbs has been found guilty of fraud after failing to declare the 50,000-EUR prize money at his local job centre.
Stefan Pries-Schloh became famous in 2015 during German television’s ‘The Biggest Loser’, in which overweight men and women compete to lose the most weight with the help of fitness instructors and diet gurus.
Stefan, who used to weigh 143 kilogrammes (315 lbs), finished the show at a healthy weight of 77.7 kilogrammes (171 lbs) after shedding a whopping 144 lbs in just nine weeks.
He beat 15 other candidates and won 50,000 EUR (43,805 GBP) in prize money. Besides the main jackpot, Stefan was also paid 1,600 EUR (1,402 GBP) in expenses.
However, he failed to declare the money at his local job centre which is obligatory under German law for those receiving unemployment benefits.
Stefan was charged on suspicion of fraud and had to appear in a Hamburg court to defend himself.
He said: “My ex-wife has profited a lot from it [the prize money], and my daughter of course as well.
“Then I started gambling to distract myself, and I lent some to a friend who unfortunately died. After that I was destitute. You would not believe how fast the money disappeared. I can only apologise. I am sometimes wasteful.”
Stefan also told the court that he also used the money to buy a new wardrobe of clothes as his old attire did not fit him anymore.
Meanwhile, because he suffered a meniscus injury after the show as a result of all the workouts he was subjected to, he quickly gained weight again and needed to buy another set of clothes.
Stefan said that he only thought he had to declare the money at the tax office and not at the job centre.
The public prosecutor said: “It is not a very professional approach. It was clear that it would be flagged. His win was really something fortunate that would have allowed him to start something new.”
The judge handed down a suspended sentence of 11 months.
Stefan will also have to pay back 20,453 EUR (17,920 GBP) in unemployment benefits which he was not entitled to.
According to local media, Stefan is currently jobless again, although he does have an irregular job working at markets around the region on a fish and chips stall.