Sorry to all the Michael A., Andrew S., and Greg stans.
Even though Michelle Young’s Bachelorette season has yet to air, it looks like one of her contestants made a big impression — so much so, he’s already been cast as the next lead. So, who is the 2022 Bachelor? ABC has not yet confirmed his exact identity, but there are some major hints.
While it’s not uncommon for a Bachelor season’s lead to be cast from the Bachelorette season that preceded it, the producers don’t always follow this formula. Clare Crawley, for example, was on Season 18 of The Bachelor before being cast as the Season 16 Bachelorette six years later, and Matt James, the Season 25 Bachelor, was never actually a part of the franchise until he was cast as the Season 25 lead. With the pool of candidates wide open, especially with contestants from Katie Thurston’s Bachelorette season and Bachelor in Paradise Season 7 becoming fan-favorites, it was really anyone’s game to become the Bachelor Season 26 lead. But, it turns out, one of Michelle Young’s suitors beat everyone else out.
ICYMI, Mike Fleiss — the creator and producer of The Bachelor — tweeted on Sept. 10 that the Season 26 lead was already chosen. Then on Sept. 15, Fleiss confirmed the Season 26 lead is a contestant on Michelle’s upcoming season of The Bachelorette.
As of Sept. 16, multiple outlets have suggested a man named Clayton Echard, who’s indeed listed a cast member on Michelle’s upcoming season, will be named the next lead. According to photos obtained from E! News, Echard may have even been spotted filming promos for the upcoming season. Elite Daily reached out to ABC for comment on the possible casting, but didn’t hear back in time for publication. That said, Fleiss did reveal something else that makes the whole “Clayton is the Season 26 Bachelor” theory all the more convincing.
On Sept. 15, Fleiss tweeted again to say the Season 26 lead’s name “starts with the letter C.” So, fans now know the next Bachelor is a contestant on Michelle’s season, and his name starts with C. That’s two checks for Clayton.
But before you fall too hard for Clayton, it’s important to note there *are* a few other confirmed cast members on Michelle’s season whose names also start with “C.” So, even though it looks like Clayton could be the next guy looking for love onscreen, ABC’s known for mixing things up when you least expect it, so you might want to hang onto your roses until the official announcement.
The Bachelorette Season 18 premieres Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.