How Clare Crawley Really Found Out Matt James Was the Next Bachelor

When Matt James was cast as the next bachelor in June 2020, fans already knew the 28-year-old as one of the potential suitors for Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette. The 16th season hasn’t even started filming. So naturally, the news came as a surprise to everyone, which allegedly included the new bachelorette. Reports came in claiming no one bothered to tell Crawley about James’ new role ahead of The Bachelor announcement. Then recently, ABC executive Rob Mills cleared up the rumors.

Matt James will be the next bachelor

RELATED: Did ABC Choose Matt James as the Next ‘Bachelor’ For the ‘Right Reasons?’

On June 12, ABC announced James as the new bachelor for season 25. James is notably the first Black man to fill the leading role since the series premiere 18 years ago. Then in his first interview with Good Morning America, the ABC Food Tours co-founder shared his hopes for the franchise moving forward.

“Hopefully, when people invite me into their homes on Monday night, they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful,” James said. 

He later added, “In my opinion, I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing … We can’t have change until we put that first foot forward. And the first foot forward for The Bachelor franchise is having a black lead. So I’m excited to take on that role.”

James also briefly noted his disappointment he wouldn’t be part of Crawley’s season.

“My first reaction was, ‘Does this mean I don’t get to meet Clare?’” James said. “I was looking forward to meeting her.”

Why fans think ‘The Bachelorette’s Clare Crawley wasn’t told Matt James was going to be the bachelor

Following the June 12 announcement, Us Weekly reported Crawley “wasn’t given any heads up” about James’ new role as the bachelor. 

“Clare didn’t know about Matt becoming the bachelor until [Good Morning America] announcement,” a source told the publication. “Decisions are still being made when it comes to her cast.”

Meanwhile, ABC claims James has been in the running for some time. When the news broke about The Bachelor Season 25, the network’s president, Karey Burke, said in a statement:

Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect bachelor.

ABC executive explains how the network told Clare Crawley about Matt James

On June 17, Mills stopped by On Air with Ryan Seacrest to discuss the future of The Bachelorette. But before they dove into details, Seacrest asked the ABC executive to clear up the rumors surrounding James and Crawley. Mills then proceeded to deny the rumors.

“Somebody said something to Us Weekly that she did not know — that she found out on GMA,” Mills said. “Of course, we would never do that to Clare.”

He then explained when Crawley was told James would be the next bachelor. 

“She found out the day before,” Mills said. “Look, we wanted to keep this under wraps. We wanted to control the announcement and not have it leak. But Clare, of course, was told before that.”

Clare Crawley on ABC's "The Bachelorette" - Season 15
The new bachelorette Clare Crawley | John Fleenor via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Mills shared the network’s hopes for Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette after the show postponed production back in March. 

“Here’s what we’re going to do for Clare’s season, which is gonna come first. That’s going to shoot in about a month,” Mills said. “Everyone is going to be in one location and everyone will be tested a week before. If everyone comes out negative, we’ll shoot it. And they’re inside that bubble, basically.”

Then he revealed James’ season of The Bachelor is expected to start filming toward the end of September. “We’ll see where the world is,” Mill said. “Hopefully, that’s one where we’ll be at the mansion. Maybe there’s some travel, maybe it’s just domestic, maybe it’s by bus. But we’ll see.”

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