Spoilers for The Bachelor ahead.
If it feels like Tayshia Adams and Claire Crawley's (opens in new tab)season of The Bachelorette just ended, that's because, uh, it did. Just two weeks separated their season of The Bachelorette and Matt James' season (opens in new tab) of The Bachelor, which started on January 4, 2021 on ABC at 8 p.m. Early spoilers for James' season (opens in new tab) from Bachelor Nation guru Reality Steve and other spoiler accounts made clear that this season was going to be soapy and dramatic (or "dra-MATT-ic," as ABC put it)—but controversy over the franchise's handling of race (opens in new tab) quickly marred James's season, leading to host Chris Harrison stepping down before James had even handed out his final rose.
As for James, he's unique for being both the first Black Bachelor and the first Bachelor in years that wasn't a fan favorite from previous seasons. Instead, James was plucked from Crawley's cast (opens in new tab) before he'd even met her—and the timing was interesting, to say the least, since a petition (opens in new tab) had just begun circulating that demanded a greater commitment to diversity in The Bachelor franchise. But James also ticks a lot of the boxes for the franchise: He's handsome, charming, best friends with Tyler Cameron (opens in new tab), and committed to charity work. Who wouldn't want to date the guy?
Who wins Matt James' season and gets engaged to him?
The four final contestants who made it to hometowns were:
- Serena Pitt
- Rachael Kirkconnell
- Bri Springs
- Michelle Young
The frontrunner who has commanded the most attention, by far, is Rachael Kirkconnell. You can learn more about her and the controversy around her here (opens in new tab):
And here's Serena Pitt (more on her here (opens in new tab)):
Michelle Young: (opens in new tab)
As for who wins the season and James' heart, Reality Steve says it came down to Rachael and Michelle as James' final two, with Rachael winning the season and getting James' final rose. If you needed more evidence that Kirkconnell won: @BachSleuthers discovered (opens in new tab) that James had been listening to one of Kirkconnell's playlists (I mean, do you listen to your ex's Spotify playlists?).
Sadly, things went downhill from there. Reality Steve reported (opens in new tab) that James broke up with Kirkconnell at some point after the season filmed and before it aired, potentially in connection to the controversy around Kirkconnell that swallowed James's season. When it began airing in January, people noticed that Kirkconnell had "liked" racist posts on social media—and the controversy hit breaking point when photographs of her at a plantation-themed ball, apparently dressed in an "antebellum"-style outfit, emerged. At some point, Kirkconnell and James split for good.
It appears that the breakup was initiated by James. Says Reality Steve of the "After The Final Rose": "I know that [Rachael] didn’t want the break up to happen, so what mind set will she be in? Will Matt say something different on TV than what he told her during the breakup?"
We'll learn more about what happened between James and Kirkconnell during the finale of James's season on March 15, and during the "After The Final Rose" thereafter. Former NFL player Emmanuel Acho will be hosting in lieu of Harrison.
Which brings me to my next question: Will James try to rekindle things with one of his other frontrunners, now that things are over with Kirkconnell? The most likely pick would be Young, if we assume that she came in second and therefore had the deepest connection with James aside from Kirkconnell.
If it did happen, it wouldn't be the first time a lead had ended up with a person they didn't give their final rose to (see: Arie Luyendyk Jr, who ended up with Lauren Burnham over Becca Kufrin, or Jason Mesnick, who broke up with his final pick on-air to end up with runner-up Molly). Plus, it would give James a happy ending, which is the least that James (and all of us) deserve after such a painful season.
But...apparently not. "Matt seems to be content on leaving this thing as a single man, and frankly, seems to be done with this franchise," says (opens in new tab) Reality Steve.
Who will be The Bachelorette next season?
Reality Steve initially reported that ABC had chosen Katie Thurston, the contestant you'll remember for calling out Victoria and everyone else when you were screaming at the TV, but Thurston then posted (opens in new tab)an Instagram story that sent: "Reading my texts this morning like...news to me." She reiterated this sentiment on Tamron Hall: "Until I hear otherwise officially, again, it’s news to me."
Reality Steve then backtracked (opens in new tab): "Now, I don’t see [Katie being cast as the Bachelorette] happening. Hell, we don’t even know if there WILL be a “Bachelorette” season." But then—I know, I can't keep up either—it turned out that Thurston was selected to be the Bachelorette after all. On March 8, weeks before The Bachelorette was scheduled to begin filming, Reality Steve wrote: "What I posted last week is now “official.” Katie Thurston was named the “Bachelorette” at this past Friday’s ATFR taping. For real this time."
But then, another twist: Reality Steve reported that Thurston won't be the only Bachelorette in 2021. And no, this isn't another "two Bachelorettes, one season" situation, thank God. There are going to be two separate seasons of The Bachelorette this year, according to Reality Steve. One will be helmed by Thurston, and the other by fan favorite Michelle Young.
And who will be the host, I hear you ask? Well—hosts, plural. Kaitlyn Bristowe, the former Bachelorette who won this past season of Dancing With The Stars, will co-host alongside Tayshia Adams, the last Bachelorette. Bristowe wrote on Instagram in response to a comment: "Truthfully we are there to support the new bachelorette, We aren't 'replacing' anyone!!!"
Where Are They Now? The Couples of 'Bachelor' Nation
Alex Michel & Amanda Marsh
The first season of The Bachelor didn't end with a proposal, but it did end with Michel and Marsh in a relationship. The pair dated for nearly a year before Marsh broke up with him (opens in new tab) for keeping in touch with runner-up (and someone you'll see on this list in a bit) Trista Rehn. Marsh married her childhood friend, Jay Caldwell, and they have a daughter named Chloe.
Aaron Buerge & Helene Eksterowicz
Buerge and Eksterowicz broke up after several weeks—according to Eksterowicz (opens in new tab), she was "dumped at a Starbucks." Buerge married Angye McIntosh in 2009 and they have a daughter named Aven, and Eksterowicz married tech consultant Andrew Goodman in 2013 and they have a son together and live in New Jersey.
Trista Rehn & Ryan Sutter
Rehn and Sutter were married on national television on December 6, 2003, and are still together after 15 years. They have two children, Max (born in 2007), and Blakesley (born in 2009). Truly #couplegoals.
Andrew Firestone & Jen Schefft
Schefft and Firestone broke up after several months together, but they remained friends. He married actress Ivana Bozilovic, and they have three children, while Schefft went on to become The Bachelorette. We'll get to her in a bit.
Bob Guiney & Estella Gardinier
Another case where the show didn't end with a proposal. Guiney offered Gardinier a promise ring with an agreement to date after the show ended, but they wound up breaking up after the show aired. Guiney later married Rebecca Budig, but they split in 2010. In 2016, he later married Jessica Canyon. Gardinier appears to be single, working as a fitness instructor in California.
Meredith Phillips & Ian McKee
McKee and Phillips broke up a year after the finale of their season aired in 2005. Phillips married her high school boyfriend in 2011; McKee seems to be single.
Jesse Palmer & Jessica Bowlin
Palmer didn't propose to Bowlin, much like Bob Guiney and Alex Michel. The pair dated, but broke up shortly after the show aired. Bowlin married Omar Rawi and has two children, and Palmer got engaged to his girlfriend, model Emely Fardo, in July 2019.
Byron Velvick & Mary Delgado
Pro Bass fisherman Velvick and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader Delgado dated for five years before they called off their engagement. Velvick married a hospice owner named Belinda and they have a child together, while Delgado, who has had a few run-ins with the law (opens in new tab), married her husband in Cuba.
Jen Schefft & Jerry Ferris
Technically, Schefft and Ferris broke up on the live After the Final Rose special. Schefft turned down Ferris's proposal, saying the chemistry wasn't there. She got married in 2009, and has two daughters, while Ferris is also married with a son.
Charlie O'Connell & Sarah Brice
O'Connell didn't propose in the end, but he and Brice dated on-and-off from 2005 to 2010. Brice has three children with Brandt Calver, and O'Connell married Playboy Playmate Anna Sophia Berglund in 2018.
Travis Stork & Sarah Stone
Stork and Stone broke up shortly after the finale aired. Stork married pediatrician Charlotte Brown in 2012, but they divorced in 2015; Stork married Parris Stork in 2019. You can also see him on The Doctors. Stone married Brock Smith, and they have three daughters together.
Prince Lorenzo Borghese & Jennifer Wilson
Borghese wound up not proposing to Wilson at the show's finale, but they entered into a relationship and dated for several months. Borghese went on to date Sadie Murray, the runner-up from his season of The Bachelor for a few months before breaking it off with her in March of 2007. Wilson is now married to Lee Gerschultz.
Andy Baldwin & Tessa Horst
Baldwin did propose to Horst, but they wound up calling off their engagement a month after the finale of their season aired, yet continued to date until September 2007. Horst is now married to Tom Pickard and they have a son together.
Matt Grant & Shayne Lamas
Grant proposed to Lamas, but they wound up ending things in July 2008 because they felt their lives were going in different directions. Lamas married Nik Richie, founder of gossip website TheDirty.com, and they have two children together. Grant is now married to Rebecca Moring.
Deanna Pappas & Jesse Csincsak
Pappas was the first Bachelorette following a three-year long hiatus for the franchise. She accepted a proposal from Csincsak in the show's season finale. They had set a wedding date for May 9, 2009, but broke up in November 2008. According to Csincsak, Pappas said, (opens in new tab) "I love you, but I'm not in love with you." Ouch. Pappas married Stephen Stagliano, twin brother of Bachelorette season 5 contestant Michael Stagliano, and they have two children. Csincsak also married within the Bachelor family, settling down with Bachelor season 13 contestant Ann Lueders after meeting at a reunion show. They have three children together.
Jason Mesnick & Melissa Rycroft
In one of the most dramatic moments in Bachelor history, Jason Mesnick called off his engagement to Melissa Rycroft (opens in new tab) after he changed his mind and decided to pursue a relationship with runner-up Molly Malaney. Don't forget—he also did this live on national television. It all worked out, though: Mesnick and Malaney got married in 2010 with an ABC special, and have two children together. Rycroft won the 15th season of Dancing with the Stars, married Tye Strickland, and has three children.
Jillian Harris & Ed Swiderski
Harris, the first Canadian bachelorette, accepted Swiderski's proposal in the season finale, but they broke up a year after their finale aired. Swiderski is married to Natalie Bomke, while Harris has two children with fiancé Justin Pasutto.
Jake Pavelka & Vienna Girardi
Noted for being one of the most messy and public breakups in Bachelor history, Pavelka and Girardi ended their relationship in September 2010. Pavelka remains single and has been seen on many a reality television show, while Girardi is engaged to marry Todd Allen, a race car driver.
Ali Fedotowsky & Roberto Martinez
Fedotowsky accepted Martinez's proposal and offered him her final rose, but they wound up breaking up a year after their season aired. Fedotowsky married television and radio host Kevin Manno in 2017, and they have two children.
Brad Womack & Emily Maynard
Brad Womack was The Bachelor twice, but only proposed once, to future Bachelorette Emily Maynard. (Spoiler alert!) They broke up while their season was airing, but got back together after the season's finale. They eventually called it quits for real in May 2011. Womack has no social media accounts, so there's no clue of what he's up to. We'll get to Maynard in a moment.
Ashley Hebert & J.P. Rosenbaum
These two made it all the way down the aisle! Hebert and Rosenbaum married on December 1, 2012, and their wedding aired as a TV special that year. They have two children, Fordham (born 2014) and Essex (born 2016).
Holly Durst & Blake Julian
These two met on Bachelor Pad 2, and got engaged after only knowing each other for a couple of months. Julian had appeared on Ashley Hebert’s season of The Bachelorette, while Durst was a contestant on Matt Grant’s season of The Bachelor. The duo married in June 2012, and they welcomed their first child through adoption in 2019.
Ben Flajnik & Courtney Robertson
The rollercoaster that was Ben-and-Courtney was one for the ages: They broke up while the show was still airing, then got back together and got re-engaged, before ultimately breaking up and calling off their wedding. Robertson wrote a book about her time on The Bachelor called "I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends." She's currently dating Humberto Preciado; Flajnik may still be single.
Emily Maynard & Jef Holm
Maynard and "Jef with one f" got engaged at the end of her season of The Bachelorette. But after a nasty and public cheating scandal, Maynard and Holm broke up in October 2012. Maynard married Tyler Johnson in June 2014, and they have three children. Holm is still single, the last update we heard on his love life was that he was dating public relations executive Hayley Enzor (opens in new tab) in February 2018.
Sean Lowe & Catherine Giudici
Underdog Guidici stole Lowe's heart on his season of The Bachelor, and he proposed during the season finale in Thailand. Lowe and Giudici got married in an ABC special on January 26, 2014 and have two sons: Samuel (born 2016) and Isaiah (born 2018). Their Instagram is totally swoon-worthy.
Desiree Hartsock & Chris Siegfried
Hartsock gave Siegfried her final rose and he gave her an engagement ring. Then, the lovebirds headed down the aisle on January 18, 2015. They live together in Seattle, Washington, with their sons, Asher (born 2016) and Zander (born 2019).
Juan Pablo Galavis & Nikki Ferrell
Galavis broke with the recent tradition and didn't propose to Ferrell, instead choosing to continue their relationship off-camera. They dated for a few months, even appearing on Couples Therapy, before they decided to call it quits in October 2014. Farrell married Tyler Vanloo in October 2016, and Galavis married former Miss Earth Venezuela Osmariel Villalobos in August 2017.
Andi Dorfman & Josh Murray
Dorfman accepted Murray's proposal in the season finale, turning down future Bachelor Nick Viall (but more on him later). Dorfman and Murray announced their breakup on January 8, 2015, and Dorfman published a tell-all book about her time on the show and their relationship. She also recently had dinner (opens in new tab) with her third runner-up Chris Soules (who also shows up in a few slides) but apparently it wasn't romantic. We'll get to Murray in a minute.
Lacy Faddoul & Marcus Grodd
The first Bachelor in Paradise wedding ended...uh...awkwardly? The duo ended the show's first season engaged and held a wedding ceremony on the show's second season premiere, but called it quits less than a year after saying "I do" in front of the cameras. Grodd later admitted (opens in new tab) that the two were never legally married. He actually married Ally Lutar in January 2018, and Faddoul's instagram is private, so we may never know what her relationship status post-Marcus is.
Michelle Money & Cody Sattler
Money, a Bachelor and Bachelor Pad alum fell for Sattler, one of Andi Dorfman's suitors, on the first season of Bachelor in Paradise. They announced they were donezo in December 2014, only to get back together in June 2015...only to break up again. They reunited and made an appearance on Marriage Boot Camp, but it wasn't enough to save the relationship for a third and final time. Now, they're both dating other people.
Chris Soules & Whitney Bischoff
The season ended with Soules getting on one knee and proposing to Bischoff, but they announced they were calling off their engagement two months after their season finished airing, in May 2015. Bischoff is now married to Ricky Angel, and Soules uses his Bachelor fame to partner with charities like No Kid Hungry.
Kaitlyn Bristowe & Shawn Booth
Bristowe and Booth got engaged in the July 2015 finale of her season of The Bachelorette and looked like they were going to make it. The Canadian dancer and personal trainer were engaged for three years before breaking up in November 2018. Bristowe is now dating Jason Tartick from Becca Kufrin's season.
Jade Roper & Tanner Tolbert
They got hitched! Less than four months after Tanner gave Jade both his final rose and a Neil Lane ring on the season finale of the second season of Bachelor In Paradise, Roper and Tolbert walked down the aisle in front of family, friends, and the rest of Bachelor Nation on January 24, 2016 in a live ceremony. They welcomed their first child, a daughter named Emerson, on August 17, 2017, and now have a son too—Roper made headlines when she accidentally gave birth (opens in new tab) in her own closet.
Jared Haibon & Ashley Iaconetti
It was a real journey for these two, but at least it had a happy ending! They met on Bachelor in Paradise in 2015, and dated and broke up on Paradise in 2016. They got together after years of being on and off, and got engaged on Paradise in 2018.The now-happy couple got married (opens in new tab) in August 2019 with a predictably OTT wedding and many Bachelor alums in attendance.
Samantha Steffen & Nick Peterson
The duo didn't leave Paradise engaged, but they did decide to leave together in the show's second season finale in 2015. Unfortunately, they parted ways amicably in October 2015. Steffen is single at the moment, and Peterson's Instagram bio reads "Still a bachelor doin my thing."
Cassandra Ferguson & Justin Reich
Ferguson and Reich chose to forgo the engagement but left Paradise season 2 in a relationship. It came as a shock to the audience when, on After Paradise, Ferguson revealed that she and Reich had broken up and she was dating Jonathan Holloway, another BIP contestant. That relationship was apparently short-lived, as Ferguson appeared on the 2018 season of Bachelor In Paradise, and Reich's Instagram shows no sign of a partnership.
Ben Higgins & Lauren Bushnell
Higgins and Bushnell's relationship was never far from the cameras: After getting engaged on his season of The Bachelor, Higgins did Dancing with the Stars, and then the two of them had their own reality show called Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After? The pair officially split in May 2017, and both have been linked with other people. Bushnell got married to country singer Chris Lane in 2019; Higgins is dating Jessica Clarke.