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Turner was asked about the story by reporters while doing interviews for the hit reality show, which aired its season finale Thursday night. The Hollywood Reporter’s story, which ran one day ahead of the finale, detailed how the first Golden Bachelor’s past was a bit different than what’s been presented on the show. For instance, Turner had claimed that he hadn’t dated since his wife’s tragic death in 2017, but a former girlfriend disputed this. The woman identified only as “Carolyn” says she dated Turner for 10 months and lived with him in his Indiana home. She said Turner broke up with her because of her weight. The story also noted that the reality show portrayed him as a retired restaurateur but didn’t note he sold that drive-in business in 1985 and more recently worked as a handyman.
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About the previous relationship, Turner told Katie Couric Media, “I guess I would say this: I dated a number of women, but then it becomes an issue of how you define whether you’re in a relationship. [The relationship referenced in THR] really didn’t [last a few years].”
As for his résumé, Turner said, “The business I owned was very much like the Cadillac Diner that Theresa and I went to on the very first date. I sold burgers and fries and shakes, and it was a very profitable business. And the comments about what I did later in life, I did those after I retired. I retired at 55, and I was very happy giving back to the community and doing things that were worth something to other people. I mean, jeez, I didn’t work as a handyman for the money. I did it because I knew I was doing something good for people who needed help. There’s just enough truth in [the article]. But I have so many positives to think about that I haven’t really given that article a whole lot of thought.”
The New York Times previously asked Turner if the story was accurate, and he replied, “I guess I haven’t really looked at it as how accurate it is. I’ve more looked at it in terms of timing, and how it really doesn’t fit with all of the positive things that are going on in my life right now. I mean, I’m sitting across from Theresa right now, and I look at her, and she’s the love of my life. And I really don’t have time to think about some of the other stuff.”
Turner’s season, meanwhile, ended with an engagement with his final pick, Theresa Nist, and a wedding announcement, with the ceremony to be televised Jan. 4 on ABC.
Turner was not asked by show host Jesse Palmer about the story during the post-finale After the Final Rose live show that aired Thursday night, or during a pretaped sit-down with his winner that aired Friday morning on GMA and that will air in full Friday night on Nightline. The ABC News interview, THR has learned, was taped before THR’s article published.
The Bachelor franchise has a problematic vetting history, something they have worked to course-correct in more recent seasons. 2020 saw the hit Warner Bros. TV franchise coming under fire over systemic racism, which ushered in the exit of longtime host Chris Harrison, and welcomed in an era of change. The series named its first-ever Black executive producer with Jodi Baskerville, diversified its leads with more women and men of color from that point on, and offered behind-the-scenes support for its nonwhite leads and contestants.
The franchise then continued to grow, adding The Golden Bachelor to its umbrella of shows, which includes staples The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (both returning in 2024), and The Bachelor in Paradise (which wraps its ninth season next week).
A Golden Bachelorette, meanwhile, has yet to be made official but seems likely. “We’re really hopeful that this continues to expand. People are really liking the stories that we’re telling, and so I’m really interested to see. It will be different; it will be almost like doing it for the first time all over again with The Golden Bachelorette. What is it going to be like with 20-some older men living in the Bachelor Mansion? We don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it will be different and interesting. And that’s what makes me want to watch,” executive producer Jason Ehrlich recently told THR.
The Golden Bachelor’s overall wholesome charm, senior optimism and hit ratings were a refreshing boost to the long-running reality franchise, with Gerry and his 22 female contestants becoming easy to root for as they set out for their second and third chances at love in the third act of their lives.
Executive producers Ehrlich, Claire Freeland and Bennett Graebner told THR earlier in the season that Gerry went through the same diligent vetting process as any Bachelor or Bachelorette leads, even though his social media footprint is less active than the younger contestants.
Earlier in the season, after telling three women he loved them, Turner explained how he felt when taping wrapped in a conversation with THR: “By the time I got to the end of the journey, it was pretty clear that I had only one woman of those three that was right for me.”
And he had looked forward to the live finale when everything could be out in the public.
“Once we get through the final episode and everyone understands the source of why I am indeed so happy, it’ll be a relief because keeping a secret this long is really not in my nature,” he said in the pre-finale interview. “I like to talk, and I have a terrible poker face. Being able to talk about things after the final episode on Nov. 30 will be a great relief.”
Jackie Strause contributed to this story.
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