Chris Harrison on his Bachelor franchise exit: 'I was heartbroken, I was gutted'

Chris Harrison on his Bachelor franchise exit: 'I was heartbroken, I was gutted'

Chris Harrison was so devastated by his unexpected exit from the Bachelor franchise, it took a major toll on his physical health.

"I lost 20 pounds. I didn't sleep, I didn't eat," said Harrison. "It was just one gut-punch after the other, and mentally and physically I deteriorated pretty bad."

The former Bachelor Nation host and relationship guru broke his silence in the debut of The Most Dramatic Podcast... Ever, which dropped today. Speaking for nearly two hours from his home office in Austin, Harrison talked openly about his departure from the franchise after what he called his "infamous" interview with EXTRA correspondent and former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay.

"I was heartbroken. I was gutted," he said. "I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself. I was disappointed in myself. The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative — whether it had to do with race or anything." At the height of the backlash, added the host, he and fiancée Lauren Zima had paparazzi camped outside their house, and he had to take evasive measures to go anywhere. "There were people parked outside of my house for weeks, following me everywhere we went," he said. "I would sneak down the hill of my house through my neighbor's backyard and my buddy would pick me up."

Chris Harrison attends Chris Harrison's Seagram's Tropical Rosè launch party
Chris Harrison attends Chris Harrison's Seagram's Tropical Rosè launch party

Presley Ann/Getty Images Chris Harrison

Harrison said he was shocked that the backlash from the interview — in which he defended Bachelor season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for attending a "plantation-themed" sorority party in college — continued to rage even after he apologized. The host believes the reaction is due in part to the "very combustible moment in time" America was experiencing in early 2021, due both to the COVID pandemic as well as an ongoing reckoning about police brutality and racism in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

"My apology was warranted. I had no problem putting out that first apology... But there was just so much noise at the time, it just didn't matter. Apologies didn't matter," he said. "Even after that apology, we were still at ground zero. It was confusing and it was scary."

Harrison added that he was dismayed to find himself being "used" as a symbol by both sides of the political debate. "My name became synonymous with this political, lightning-in-a-bottle moment, and all of a sudden someone on CNN is talking about me for purposes of the left," he recalled. "And then Ben Shapiro and whoever else is talking about me... so I was being used by the right."

He also noted that he was aware of "certain cast members" who were campaigning to take his job in the weeks after the interview — though he said other cast members, including Ben Higgins, Catherine and Sean Lowe, and Jake Pavelka reached out to offer support during his "ordeal."

In terms of the decision to leave the long-running ABC series, Harrison said he eventually hit a "breaking point" and determined that he needed to "step away and get my life back." The 51-year-old TV veteran added that he "will forever be grateful" to the Bachelor franchise and that he holds "no animosity" toward the team behind the show. That said, Harrison told listeners that he hasn't watched any Bachelor series since Matt James' season, which was the last one he hosted.

Listen to the first two episodes of The Most Dramatic Podcast... Ever below.

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