Eddie Gazzillo lost a bunch of weight and, in return, gained national notoriety – more than he ever could have imagined as a New York City high-school football coach.
After losing 60 pounds using Weight Watchers Online, the former Grand Street Campus coach wrote a thank-you letter to the company with his inspirational story. Three years later, he’s been whisked away to Beverly Hills to film three commercials, has his own Weight Watchers Online blog with more than 1,000 followers and an article about him was one of the most viewed on Yahoo! in 2010.
The Brooklyn native and Whitestone resident is a bona fide celebrity.
“Before I know it I’m walking down the streets, people are beeping at me,” Gazzillo said with a laugh. “‘Hey Eddie, I’m down 20 pounds!’ People feel the need to tell me what they’re eating.”
His commercials have aired during Good Morning America, American Idol and Dancing with the Stars and seen by millions of people across the country.
Gazzillo’s catch phrases such as, “Gotta have that chicken parm!” and “Hey, Eddie!” have taken on a life of their own. He said he was at a supermarket in Pennsylvania jostling with a shopping cart when two teenagers shouted “chicken parm!” at him.
“My wife Dawn is like, ‘Wow, you really are famous,’ “ Gazzillo said.
After sending the letter of thanks in 2008, Gazzillo heard from Weight Watchers in September of 2009 to be a part of an online photo shoot and article. That turned into a full-page story in their magazine, which spawned the commercial that was shot in February 2010.
While he was in LA, he took an elevator with Donna Summer, sat next to Quincy Jones at a restaurant, pulled up next to Ashton Kutcher’s car and hobnobbed with Kevin Bacon.
“I kept saying thank you to the people there,” Gazzillo said. “They said this is the norm. I said, ‘There’s nothing normal about this to me. I’m a school teacher from Brooklyn.’”