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Rachel Lindsay, a current contestant on Nick Viall’s season, was revealed as the lead of the next cycle in the reality dating franchise, becoming the first black star in 33 combined seasons of The Bachelorette and The Bachelor. The announcement came weeks ahead of The Bachelor finale, and on the same night Lindsay advanced to Viall’s final four women.
“You are getting a lot of heat over the fact that it was announced,” Kelly Ripa told franchise host Chris Harrison when he guest co-hosted Friday’s Live With Kelly. “People are enraged with you, Chris Harrison, because now they know she’s not the Bachelor’s choice!”
Judging by the responses, Harrison said “you would have thought I started the next World War.”
Since receiving the annual “first-impression” rose from Viall on the premiere episode, Lindsay has stood out as a frontrunner to both Viall and viewers.
Traditionally, the next Bachelorette is announced after The Bachelor wraps, as the lead is usually one of the finalists. Last season, for example, ABC announced runner-up JoJo Fletcher during Ben Higgins’ After the Final Rose post-finale special.
When speaking to Ripa, Harrison said the announcement came early due to a combination of show production schedules and the hope to be able to cast specifically for Lindsay.
“We named her the Bachelorette early because, weird TV calendar stuff is that The Bachelor runs right up to when we start taping The Bachelorette, we’re talking days,” he explained of the usual schedule. “We’re done and then she goes further in the show and we’re like, ‘well we need to let everybody know that Rachel is our Bachelorette.'”
He added, “We would like to cast the show for her.”
He compared the situation to Viall’s controversial announcement as The Bachelor, which came while the three-time franchise star was still appearing on summer spinoff Bachelor in Paradise.
“We cast all year long but like we did with Nick — it’s easier with The Bachelor because the calendar is different leading into it — but we wanted everyone to know it’s Nick so we can find people who really want to be with Nick,” said Harrison.
Filming on The Bachelorette typically runs up to the end of The Bachelor‘s airing. Ahead of Fletcher’s casting last year, viewers speculated contestant Caila Quinn was the next Bachelorette after she was photographed with cameras in her hometown. ABC instead made the last-minute decision to cast Fletcher after her well-received final episodes with Higgins.
Ripa praised the “long overdue” casting and Harrison added that he is “so excited” about Lindsay as the Bachelorette, praising her “charisma” and “star quality.”
It remains unclear which episode Lindsay will be eliminated, as the show heads to hometown dates next week. See a recap from Monday’s episode here.