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The next Bachelor has been revealed, and he represents a milestone for the ABC reality show.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Monday night’s The Bachelorette finale.]
An ABC spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the fan favorite — a 32-year-old former soccer player from Venezuela now living in Miami — will become the first non-Caucasian Bachelor or Bachelorette in franchise history. There have been a total of nine Bachelorettes; Juan Pablo is the 17th Bachelor in 18 seasons, as Brad Womack starred on the show twice.
While the franchise has featured a handful minorities as suitors — African-American Will Reese also appeared on Desiree Hartsock‘s season, which just wrapped Monday night — ABC and producer Warner Horizon TV have previously been accused of violating racial discrimination laws.
A group of Nashville residents led by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson brought a class-action lawsuit last year, alleging that the roles of the Bachelor and Bachelorette on the hit reality series have failed to feature non-white cast members and that civil rights law “plainly prohibits whites from refusing to contract with African Americans because of their race.”
The defendants pointed to the First Amendment as a bar against such claims. In October, a federal judge agreed and threw out the lawsuit.
Juan Pablo had been one of 25 men competing for Desiree’s hand during the most recent season of The Bachelorette. He is a single father to a 4-year-old girl named Camila.
Incidentally, Juan Pablo had never seen The Bachelor or The Bachelorette before appearing on the show. He told The Hollywood Reporter at last month’s Men Tell All taping that friend of his thought he would be a good fit and filled out the paperwork for him. He kept putting her off, telling her: “Yeah, yeah, I’ll fill that out later. I’m too busy.” He also didn’t want to leave his daughter for so long, but he ultimately met with the producers and decided it was worth taking a shot.
Juan Pablo was one of several names that had been rumored as possibilities in recent weeks; others had included fellow Desiree suitors Drew Kenney and Zak Waddell and past “winner” Jef Holm, who became engaged to Emily Maynard in last year’s Bachelorette finale. (They split in late 2012.)
Harrison made the announcement during Monday night’s The Bachelorette: After the Final Rose special. The Bachelor returns in January.
Desiree, meanwhile, became engaged to Chris Siegfried in the finale.
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