7:02pm PT by Jackie Strause, Christina Schoellkopf
'The Bachelorette' Finale: JoJo Engaged, Runner Up Left Shocked and "Blindsided"
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Season 12 finale of ABC's The Bachelorette.]
The Bachelorette star Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher handed out her final rose on Monday and in return, she accepted a diamond engagement ring.
The last two men standing were former pro football player Jordan Rodgers, 27, and former competitive swimmer Robby Hayes, 27. After admitting that she had fallen in love with both of her final men, JoJo ultimately picked Jordan, who then got down on one knee and proposed.
"Joelle Hannah Fletcher, will you marry me?" he asked.
"I'm shaking!" she said while accepting his proposal and finally uttering the words: "I love you. I'm in love with you."
"This is the best day of our life," they told the camera while hugging before an exotic backdrop of Phuket, Thailand.
Jordan, who has been the seasonlong frontrunner, also received JoJo's "first impression rose" on the first night. Though her attraction was immediate, the road to finding their happily ever after was still bumpy — and one that left a heartbroken Robby reeling in JoJo and Jordan's rearview mirror.
During the finale, a torn JoJo introduced both Jordan and Robby to her family when her mother, father, two brothers and sister flew out to meet their daughter.
"I'm standing here in Thailand with two men that I love," she said to the camera, explaining why she won't tell them, "I love you" just yet. "When I'm with Robby, I think of Jordan and when I'm with Jordan, I think of Robby. I want the type of man I would always be able to trust."
But the introductions did not go off without a hitch, as JoJo's mother expressed reservations about Jordan. While Jordan backed out when it came time to ask JoJo's dad for permission to propose to his daughter, Robby sat down with both of her parents to tell them how much he loves JoJo, a move that brought them both to tears.
“She will be my number one priority of life in all that I do,” he said when asking not just for her hand in marriage but for “all that is Joelle Fletcher.” He continued, “If I’m fortunate enough to receive that blessing, I can promise you both to protect her and to care for her for my entire life.”
"She trusts you. She believes in you. She loves you," her dad replied. "I am honored if you would be my son-in-law."
When speaking alone with her family, JoJo expressed feelings of regret after they said Robby seems like a "better fit" for a husband. "If I ended up with Jordan and if things ever did get tough and it didn't work out, I'd always regret not going with Robby," she said in tears. "And if I went with Robby, I'd always wonder, what if this other life, what if that was the life I was meant for?"
She was also shocked to learn that Jordan didn't ask for her father's blessing. "In my overnight with Jordan, he talked about how important that was and there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to take that moment," she said. "Why didn’t Jordan do that?”
On the day she was set to receive a proposal (or two), JoJo still didn't know which man she would pick as she read letters written to her by each. Both men were prepared to go on bended knee, as Jordan and Robby had pre-selected Neil Lane engagement rings.
Ultimately, JoJo questioned herself and her ability to make a choice between the two. "I feel like I'm having a panic attack," said JoJo in tears to the camera. "I pray to God I'm not making a huge mistake."
JoJo, who had her heart broken when she was a runner-up during the last season of The Bachelor with Ben Higgins, called the experience "cruel and twisted irony" going into the finale because, like Ben, she had fallen in love with both of her final men. "It pains me to know that I'm going to have to put someone through the same heartbreak that I felt," she told the camera.
When the moment finally came, Robby was first out of the limo. "When I leave today, I will be engaged," he said, having no idea what he was walking into.
"My heart yearns for you and I undoubtedly am wholeheartedly in love with you," he said. "It's love so deep it makes me weak in the knees."
He added, "I want to be with you forever, I will love you forever."
She interrupted him by saying: "I can't let you get down on one knee. I can't let you do that because I don't want to take that moment from you."
"Robby, I woke up this morning wanting it to be you. Every day, I've been wanting it to be you," she continued through tears as his face dropped. "I fell in love with you but for some reason, my heart is somewhere else."
When he asked her what was missing, she couldn't answer. "You deserve the type of love that you have given me," she said. "You don't get how badly I wanted it to be you."
The rejection came as a shock, especially after their seemingly perfect last date where they spoke openly about the future. "I feel that love," she had said to him. "it's the craziest thing, Robby. I don't have doubts with you."
She even told the camera, "It hasn't been until the love that he has for me that I did realize what I truly deserve and what my worth is — that's how you know it's true love. I see a lifetime with him. And that makes me excited to say 'Yes' to Robby."
For his part, Robby told the camera he will fall to his knees when he hears JoJo finally tell him she loves him. “There’s a part of me that says, 'It can’t not work.' The only reserves I have, is that maybe I’m blinded by my love."
When Robby's worst fears came true, he hugged her goodbye and told her, "Don't settle. Please don't settle."
In the limo ride away, he could barely wrap his head around what happened. "I've been waiting for her to tell me she loved me and she did, but she didn't let me get down on one knee. In what world is that allowed to happen?"
"I don't even know if me telling him I loved him mattered," she told the camera. "He deserved to know."
JoJo, after crying hysterically, then collected herself before Jordan's arrival. "The only thing that's getting me through this moment is seeing Jordan," she said. "Because I am so crazy in love with him."
During their final date together, Jordan had said he knew he'd make it to the finale after their first two dates. But when she pressed him about why he didn't initially ask her father for his blessing, she wasn't satisfied with his answer. "I want you to know that it's right and I want your family to know that's what you want, and then I will feel comfortable asking your dad," he said.
The conversation left her feeling scared: "Now I have all these doubts again."
He added later, "I'm okay taking that leap of faith because I love you that much and I don't want to lose you."
Still, she said it all made her wonder if he's being "100 percent honest with himself" about being ready for an engagement. But when it came time for him to take that walk, he fulfilled his promise. Earlier in the day, he called JoJo's parents and finally asked for their blessing, which they gave him — and which he told her in his note.
He told her when he arrived: "I fell in love first with just us. The person I could be right away with you.
"You made me believe that love doesn't need to have scripts and there's not one way to draw it up. I'm so unbelievably in love with you.
"I'm going to wake up every morning and choose you over, and over, and over again."
And she said: "Jordan, I love you so much. I've been waiting to tell you that I love you. I didn't want you to get down on one knee without telling you that."
ABC's After the Final Rose special kicked off immediately after, featuring JoJo and Jordan together, for the first time, as a couple, and JoJo reuniting with a scorned Robby face-to-face for the first time since the finale.
Robby was first to take the hotseat during the live post-show, telling host Chris Harrison that his immediate thoughts in Thailand were of shock and of being "blindsided."
"A wave of disappointment" is how he described it, adding that he didn't feel clarity, even after watching the episode back. "In that moment, I was thinking about all the future plans we had made, all the times we had discussed looking forward to after this ... I had to watch [all] that drift away over that horizon."
Telling the host that he was confused, he explained that he was so confident going into the proposal that he was convinced he was the only guy left in Thailand.
"I wanted it to be her, but unfortunately for me, it wasn’t," he said. Still, he added: "I respect the hell out of Jordan, he’s one of my great friends, and I respect her decision-making."
When JoJo appeared, Robby couldn't help but smile as he embraced her and told her that she looked gorgeous.
"After our overnight and in the interview you said you were in love with me, but you wanted to wait until the end when you knew it was me," he said, Aand then when we got to the end and it wasn't me, it still came out. So I'm wondering, why you went about it that way."
JoJo said, simply, that was how she felt.
"I love the man that you are and that's how I felt," she said. "And I don't know if that made things worse."
He agreed that it was something he wanted to hear, and continued to press for closure. "You said a lot of things that made me feel like it should have been us," he said. "Is there anything more clear [now] as to why one love was stronger than the love we had?"
She again said she did love him, but that her heart was always with Jordan: "I just couldn't ever imagine saying goodbye to him." Adding, "I was madly in love with him."
With Robby, she says she was in love, but it wasn't where her love was with Jordan. Saying the hardest part was hurting Robby, she added that she is "so happy now," and flashed a diamond ring on her engagement finger as she gestured.
Confirming to Harrison that she is still engaged, she spoke about going from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs after Robby left the stage.
When he asker her for her thoughts on who the next Bachelor should be, Luke Pell earned the biggest cheers from the crowd when she mentioned his name. However, villain Chad Johnson, who was in the audience, then interrupted the pair for an underwhelming plea as to why he should be the Bachelor.
Talk then turned to JoJo and Jordan's relationship being hit with such negative backlash.
"It's hard feeling you're coming out of it without any support," she said, blaming the tabloids. "There's been many nights where I've cried myself to sleep and he's been the person on the phone with me." Saying she won't feed into the rumors, she admitted the hardest part is hearing that Jordan's actions are all for show. "This should be a really amazing time in your life."
Bringing up the moment he's been teasing all night, Harrison asked about the Aaron Rodgers family feud. "It's hard to try and prove something," JoJo said about people not knowing the family.
When Jordan joined his fiancee on the couch, he gushed over seeing the ring on her finger and spoke to the difficult post-show experience.
"We can't be there to support each other in front of everybody, it hasn't been easy," he said. "But it's made us that much stronger."
When asked if there were rocky times, JoJo said she didn't want to sugarcoat it. "It's been very difficult," she said. "But he's been nothing but so honest to me."
Still, they told Harrison that they never came close to breaking up. "It's been difficult, but that's what we expected," he said. "She's the person I want to do it with and the person I want to do life with."
Harrison continued to press them on his strained relationship with Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, but the pair didn't bite. Instead, they revealed that they bought a home together in Dalla and assured the critics that they are ready to start their future together and cohabitating.
"I'm ready," JoJo said about a wedding, adding that they've thrown around dates for next year. "We're just so excited to be normal."
Once more, Harrison turned chatter back to Aaron Rodgers, pressing the pair on if anything has changed and if JoJo has met him. JoJo said she still has not and that nothing has changed.
"Hopefully Aaron can make it to the wedding!" said the host.
Are you happy with JoJo's pick? Sound off in the comments section below and share your thoughts on Twitter using the #THRose hashtag.