Matt James' search for his future wife is heating up, but many viewers are already thinking about the next installment in the Bachelor franchise. Although no one knows who the Bachelorette Season 17 lead will be, one recently eliminated Season 25 contestant has won fans' hearts. So, will Abigail Heringer be the next Bachelorette? Bachelor Nation is hopeful.
At the beginning of the season, Abigail seemed like a major frontrunner after Matt gave her the coveted first impression rose on Night 1. During their first conversation, the 25-year-old Oregon native shared her story as a deaf woman with a cochlear implant. She added that she was glad Matt had nice lips, because she would be reading them all night.
The Bachelor was clearly won over by Abigail's sweetness and openness, and she quickly became one of the major fan-favorites of his season. But as the season went on, her and Matt's Night 1 connection never led to a 1-on-1 date. During the Feb. 15 episode, Abigail confronted Matt about the status of their relationship.
That's when Matt admitted that although he automatically felt drawn to her in the beginning, he felt so "comfortable" with their connection that he pursued his feelings for other women in the meantime... and ultimately formed stronger relationships with them over the course of Season 25. So, Matt sent a stunned Abigail packing. As she left, she made a seriously heartbreaking observation: "I just feel like I'm constantly the person that makes men realize what they want next, but they never want me, so it's just a hard pill that I'm gonna have to swallow."
Although there are rumors that Katie Thurston will be crowned the next Bachelorette, as of Feb. 16, there's no official word on who will be the next lead. And because Abigail was such a fan-fave, there's a good chance it will be her. It's worth noting that she made it further in Matt's journey to find love than Katie did, and Bachelorettes typically place well in their respective Bachelor seasons.
Abigail becoming the lead would also be an important step forward for representation in Bachelor Nation. The franchise has never had a deaf Bachelor or Bachelorette in its combined 41 seasons, and contestants with disabilities are underrepresented on reality TV in general. Suffice it to say, Abigail's casting as the next Bachelorette could break down major barriers.
And who knows? If The Bachelorette doesn't work out, there's always Paradise.
Season 25 of The Bachelor continues Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.