Spoilers for Matt James's season of The Bachelor. Because the one thing every reality show needs is even more drama, the powers that be over at ABC blessed viewers of this season of The Bachelor by unceremoniously throwing in five more women mid-season to compete for Matt James' heart. Among this group of new additions was Michelle Young, one of the final four women who makes it to the very end of the season, if the rampant rumors floating around about James' season are to be believed—and might even be The Bachelorette (or, I should say, one of the Bachelorettes) thereafter. Here's everything we know about Young.
What is Young's job?
Young graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, in 2015 with a degree in elementary education. In a rare example of someone actually using their college degree exactly how it was intended, the 27-year-old jumped right into molding young minds as an elementary school teacher. According to her official ABC bio, a major focus in Young's career is helping to guide her students to become the next generation of community leaders. This was likely a a core piece of her connection with James, since he's the founder of a nonprofit organization aimed at providing one-of-a-kind culinary experiences to underprivileged kids.
Outside of work, Young's hobbies include hiking, wine tasting, and catching up with friends. She loves checking out new food trucks and ice cream parlors around her home of Minneapolis, her love language is acts of service, and she's a self-described "catchphrase queen."
What else do we know about Michelle?
During her time at Bradley, Young was a star of the women's basketball team. By her senior year, the five-foot-nine point guard was the team's top scorer and also had the year's most steals, per her team bio. With a total of 1,062 points scored throughout her college career, Young became the 13th-highest scorer throughout Bradley athletic history—an impressive follow-up to the all-time season scoring record she set in her senior year at Minnesota's Woodbury High School.
On top of all of this, Young maintained impressive grades, earning a place on the Bradley Athletic Director's Honor Roll each of her eight semesters as a student-athlete. No big deal or anything.
Wait, did she just join Instagram?
Could it be? Is it possible? Is a Bachelor contestant finally truly here for "the right reasons," rather than instant IG fame?! It definitely seems that way, seeing as how Young only joined the app less than a year ago, in April 2020 (???). Since then, she's only posted three more times, including a birthday post for "one of my closest gals" and a tribute to her time as a college basketball star.
That's right: In a shocking twist, her feed contains nary an inspirational quote nor overly filtered photo of the type befitting an aspiring influencer, and not a single mention of her burgeoning reality TV career. BRB, starting a petition to make January 25 a national holiday in honor of the first time a Bachelor contestant arrived on the show with apparently zero intention of quitting her job to peddle detox tea and subscription boxes.
She used the platform sparsely during her time on the show, but she made sure to use it to denounce racism in the aftermath of Rachel Lindsay's controversial interview with Chris Harrison. Lindsay, the statement said, "continues to advocate with 'grace' for individuals who identify as BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] within this franchise...Just because she is speaking the loudest doesn't mean she is alone. We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her."
What happened to her on Matt James's season?
Young did not win the season, but she came very close. "I was told 'Michelle and Rachael were final 2, and Rachael wins," Reality Steve posted early on the season. He's referring here to Rachael Kirkconnell, widely believed to be the winner of James's season.
But it seems that Kirkconnell and James couldn't survive the controversy that overwhelmed this season, which was sparked by Kirkconnell's history of racist social media behavior. (Kirkconnell, for her part, has apologized several times and says she's committed to doing better; she's even told her supporters to stop defending her.) According to Reality Steve, Kirkconnell and James broke up at some point between the finale being taped and After The Final Rose.
With Young being the season's runner-up, this begged the question: Will newly single James try to rekindle things with Young? (After all, this has happened before, both on Arie's season and Jason's.) Reality Steve says no: "Matt seems to be content on leaving this thing as a single man, and frankly, seems to be done with this franchise," says Reality Steve.
More evidence that she and James are not together now? Young has been tapped to be a future Bachelorette, according to Reality Steve. You'll notice I did not say "the next Bachelorette," and that's because the next Bachelorette is reportedly Katie Thurston, whose season will start filming in late March. But, per RS, there will be two Bachelorette seasons—first Katie's, and then Young's.