The new “Bachelor” for Season 26 has finally been confirmed after months of speculation and rumors.
On Tuesday, ABC announced that former NFL player Clayton Echard, 28, will step into the role as the next incoming “Bachelor” looking to find love amid a new pool of roughly 30 women vying for his affection. The new season, which marks the franchise’s 20th year, will begin on Jan. 3 of 2022.
The news comes shortly after Echard had an emotional exit from the most recent season of “The Bachelorette” after Michelle Young sent him home during their one-on-one date in last week’s episode. Wasting almost no time, the show revealed at the end of this week’s episode that fans hadn’t seen the last of Echard.
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“I’m just a Midwest guy from Missouri that just wants to find love,” Echard said in the first teaser for his season. “And I believe more than anything that my future wife is here.”
In addition to being a former pro athlete, Echard currently works in medical sales and is working on getting his MBA in the hopes of starting his own business someday. Before that, though, he hopes to find love as the latest man to call himself “The Bachelor.”
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Echard’s debut as the new lead of the franchise does not come as a surprise to many who have been paying attention over the last few months. Savvy fans were pretty aware that he was the guy the show had chosen even before his run on “The Bachelorette” began airing. Variety previously reported that Echard was spotted in his hometown of Missouri with a camera crew. Sources told the outlet at the time that he is indeed ABC’s next choice to be “The Bachelor.”
“I’m excited. I’m also very, very nervous,” Echard told a crowd gathered at the shoot, according to Fox 2 Now. “I’m looking to find my person.”
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Meanwhile, the show wasted no time in showing off some of the 30 ladies who will be joining the franchise in Season 26 as potential soulmates for Echard. In September, the official Facebook page for “The Bachelor” revealed photos showing viewers the women who may be competing in the next season. The collection of images includes the names and hometowns of a range of ladies ranging in age from 23 to 33 who have made the cut as potential contestants. However, not every one of the 30 women will make it to night one of Season 26.
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“We are giving you an early look at the women who may be on this season of The Bachelor! Leave a [rose] for who would get your first impression rose,” the caption on the post says.