In an emotional-filled finale, Oprah Winfrey picks a protégé on her reality competition

By Cynthia Wang
February 26, 2011 09:25 PM

After 10 contestants were plucked from obscurity from thousands of auditions to compete for their own TV show on OWN, two finalists remained – Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco, a 31-year-old mother of two from Alhambra, Calif., and Zach Anner, a 26-year-old film student in Austin, Texas.

So who did Oprah Winfrey pick as the winner?


She picked both!

Kuzmic-Crocco landed her dream cooking show and Anner his travel program when Winfrey found them equally worthy of their own programs.

“Honestly, it still hasn’t hit me,” says Kuzmic-Crocco of surviving the elimination process on Your OWN Show. “It was a journey of learning to believe in myself and knowing that I’m worth my dreams.”

Once a single mom living on food stamps following a difficult divorce, Kuzmic-Crocco, is now happily married and raising Luka, 7, and Mataya, 4, to be little chefs themselves. “I come back from this high of just two hours ago, Oprah gave me my own show,” she says, “and my daughter is all excited jumping up and down, but they don’t know the results. And she goes, ‘Mommy! Mommy! I lost a tooth!’ It just put everything into perspective.”

The Croatian-born Kuzmic-Crocco promises a show that will “get people excited about cooking and fascinated about home-made food,” she says. “I want to literally grab people out of their seats in a fast-food restaurant and introduce them to their stove and make them friends really fast!”

For Anner, “I just feel so blessed,” he says. “I am the luckiest guy in the universe and it’s so rewarding, I can’t even describe the experience in words.” He adds, making a reference to his wheelchair, “so I am putting together an interpretative dance! That’s going to be good!”

Anner, who studied radio, television and film in college, “enjoyed the collaborative process,” of producing TV segments, he says. “It was a joy to come to set every day and feel the energy. It was so amazing, it was like a crash course in producing, editing and life. You learn so much in a short period of time.”

The experience primes Anner, who has cerebral palsy, for his dream program, a travel show for people who may not have thought they could travel. “The fact that I get to share my voice with people is what I have focused on with this,” he says. “Being given this chance is incredible.”

Both shows will air on OWN this summer. “It’s just a perfect ending to this whole thing,” says Anner of having two winners. Adds Kuzmic-Crocco, “Zach and I are very, very close. We actually Skype all the time! I am so thrilled for the world to see him.”

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