Ex-‘Bachelor’ Host Chris Harrison Says He Was ‘Sacred to Death’ After Racism Controversy

49th Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals - Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images
49th Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals - Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Former Bachelor/Bachelorette host Chris Harrison said he lost plenty of sleep and weight in the wake of his tumultuous exit from the reality dating franchise back in 2021.

Harrison opened up about the experience in the first episode of his new podcast, The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever, which premiered today, Jan. 9. “I was heartbroken, I was gutted, I was embarrassed, I was mad at myself, I was disappointed in myself,” he said. “The last thing in the world that I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative, whether it had to do with race or anything… For my part in this, I was sick to my stomach. I lost 20 pounds. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I was scared to death not of my job but of my family — my fiancé, my kids.”

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Harrison, who’d been at the helm of The Bachelor franchise since 2002, exited the show in 2021 following a stir that involved former contestants Rachael Kirkconnell and Rachel Lindsay. It started when Kirkconnell came under fire for old social media posts that showed her dressing up as an indigenous person and attending an antebellum plantation party in 2018. Harrison then failed to denounce Kirkconnell in an interview with Lindsay — famously the franchise’s first Black lead — saying people should have “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.”

When Lindsay countered that it was “not a good look,” Harrison wondered, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?” He added, “I’m not defending Rachael, I just know that 50 million people did that in 2018.”

While Harrison issued multiple apologies following the interview, his exit from The Bachelor was eventually made official in June 2021 (Jesse Palmer was later named as his replacement). In the nearly two years since, Harrison has remained completely quiet about the situation — until finally addressing the issue on his new podcast.

In the debut episode, Harrison spoke about needing time to collect his thoughts and figure out what he wanted to say about the incident. He even referred back to the Lindsay interview and one point he tried to make in it, saying, “People need time to think. You need time to process. We must have grace and patience for people to think and process. Or else, you’re just getting this nonsensical, reactive emotion from people.”

Of the interview itself, Harrison took responsibility, saying, “It was on me,” and “I controlled what I had to say.” Still, he added, “The point I was trying to get, I stand by; the way I did it was messy, it was disappointing, and it’s just not me.”

Harrison also spoke about the aftermath, noting the intense paparazzi scrutiny that followed, as well as the frustrating experience of being “used” by people on both sides of the culture war. “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 said. “And then Ben Shapiro and whoever else is talking about me… so I was being used by the right.”

While Harrison said he didn’t have any regrets about stepping away from The Bachelor to “get my life back,” he did drop a few nuggets of behind-the-scenes gossip. He noted, for instance, that “certain cast members” were angling to succeed him on the show, and he also threw in this very intriguing, very vague note early on: “I’m sure there are a lot of people — well, a few people — that are sitting in Hollywood right now, nervous as hell that I am doing a podcast. And I guess I would say to those people, if you’re nervous, maybe you should be. Because you probably know that I know.”

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