The population of Bachelor Nation is ever-expanding. Even before one season of a Bachelor franchise show is complete (or has even started to air), it’s time to start thinking about the cast of the next one. Case in point: Rumors about who the Season 26 Bachelor would be began circulating before Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette even started, and fans were able to see the women in line to date the future Bachelor wayyyy in advance.
On Nov. 30, a promo for The Bachelor Season 26 finally revealed that Clayton Echard will be the upcoming season’s lead. But this is a shock to basically no one — his star turn was all but confirmed long before this trailer dropped. Let’s recap: Back in September 2021, Bachelor creator and producer Mike Fleiss confirmed the lead will be a guy from Michelle’s season. Fans then started speculating about which of Michelle’s guys will step into the lead role in 2022, and they had plenty of clues to go off of. Also in September, Fleiss let fans know that the new lead’s name starts with the letter “C.” From there, several outlets indicated the Bachelor will be Clayton, and as time went on, that fact became more and more apparent.
... Except, Clayton’s time on Michelle’s Bachelorette season was rather unremarkable. He didn’t do too much to stand out, and while his elimination was tearful, that had more to do with the connections to the kids who crashed his date than his actual connection with Michelle. Nonetheless, he is the Bachelor, so let’s all get on board, right?
Here’s what else to know about Season 26 of The Bachelor:
The Bachelor Season 26 Promo
While the first Bachelor promo — which dropped on Nov. 30 — was pretty standard (see: shirtless Clayton, hot tub kisses, and lots of tears), the official trailer for Season 26 was a major change of pace. The full sneak peek was released during the Dec. 6 “Men Tell All” special... and it was a lot. It was so much, in fact, that fans think it kinda ruined the season by (maybe!) revealing the final contestants.
Discerning viewers noticed that it appears Clayton confesses he was ~intimate~ with contestants Genevieve P. and Rachel R. during a very tense rose ceremony, which means there’s a chance those two make it to Fantasy Suites. As if that’s not enough, there’s *another* clip seemingly showing Clayton telling Gabby W. he was “falling in love” with her... before showing her crying along with the other two women. Suspicious, yes?
Of course, this could all just be a case of clever editing, but either way, it looks like Season 26 will bring the drama.
The Bachelor Season 26 Host
On Sept. 28, ABC announced former Bachelor Jesse Palmer will take over the show’s hosting role from Chris Harrison. In addition to starring in Season 5 of The Bachelor in 2004, Jesse was also a sports commentator on ESPN and a special contributor on Good Morning America. Most recently, he hosted The Ultimate Surfer, so he’s no stranger to hosting duties.
In a statement released by ABC, he said:
For more than 20 years, The Bachelor has brought the world dozens of unforgettable love stories, including at one time, my own. Falling in love is one of life’s greatest gifts, and I am humbled by the opportunity to return to the show as host this season to offer the newest Bachelor advice gained from firsthand experience and I am grateful to play a small part in his journey.
The Bachelor Season 26 Cast
On Dec. 15 ABC released the official list of 31 women who are in the running to be on the next Bachelor season on The Bachelor’s Facebook page and Instagram. Here’s a peek at who’s going to be competing for Clayton’s heart:
Here's Cassidy T., age 26, from Cave Creek, Arizona.
Next is Claire H., age 28, from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Then there’s Daria R., age 24, from Baldwin, New York.
Here’s Eliza I., age 25, from Berlin, Germany.
Above is Elizabeth C., age 32, from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Then there’s Ency A., age 28, from Burbank, California.
And this is Gabby W., age 30, from O'Fallon, Illinois.
Here’s Genevieve P., age 26, from Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
This is Hailey M., age 26, from Orlando, Florida.
Next is Hunter H., age 28, from Lake Wylie, South Carolina.
This is Ivana N., age 31, from Snellville, Georgia, and Enterprise, Alabama.
Here’s Jane P., age 33, from Los Angeles, California.
Above is Jill C., age 26, from Scituate, Rhode Island.
Here's Kate G., age 32, from Clarksville, Tennessee.
Above is Kira M., age 32, from Greensboro, North Carolina.
Here is Lindsay D., age 27, from Warner Robins, Georgia.
Then there’s Lyndsey W., age 28, from Orange, Texas.
This is Mara A., age 32, from Cherryhill, New Jersey.
Meet Marlena W., age 30, from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Here’s Melina N., age 27, from Los Angeles, California.
Next up is Rachel R., age 25, from Chicago, Illinois.
Here we have Rianna H., age 26, from Mount Pleasant, Texas.
This is Salley C., age 26, from Greenville, South Carolina.
Here’s Samantha J., age 26, from Dayton, Ohio.
Above is Sarah H., age 23, from Spartanburg, South Carolina.
This is Serene R., age 26, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Next is Shanae A., age 29, from Sycamore, Ohio.
Here’s Sierra J., age 26, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Then there’s Susie E., age 28, from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Here's Teddi W., age 24, from Redlands, California.
And finally, here’s Tessa T., age 26, from Stamford, Connecticut.
The Bachelor Season 26 premieres Jan. 3, 2022.
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