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Clayton Echard will star in season 26, and he's already hinting about what's to come.
ABC also released the premiere date for Clayton's season—and Steve leaked the names of this season's final four ladies.
The next Bachelor's journey is just a month away, Bachelor Nation—if you can believe it. A brand new tall, dark, and handsome stud will start handing out roses this January, and there's a lot to learn about him before then.
The next Bachelor is Clayton Echard, one of the unlucky contestants who was eliminated from Michelle Young's Bachelorette season this fall. Clayton is a 28-year-old orthopedic salesman from Eureka, Missouri, and he's totally ready to find the love of his life on TV. And now, ABC has officially announced Clayton's new role—along with a premiere date.
Can't wait until January to get the deets on this upcoming season? Dive into all the biggest spoilers for The Bachelor below:
Warning: spoiler alert! Stop reading here if you don’t want to know what happens on season 26 of The Bachelor!
When will season 26 premiere?
Sooner than you think! ABC officially announced in November that the next Bachelor will premiere on Jan. 3rd, 2022, per People. All of the next-level drama and Neil Lane proposal action is just one month away.
And the official announcement came from Clayton himself, on Instagram.
"Hi, it’s me Clayton…. #thebachelor," he captioned the promo pic. Friends and fans in the comments were super excited, natch. "Let’s go Clayto!! 👏🏽," Michelle wrote, while someone else added, "YESSSSS YOU DESERVE IT!!!!!"
Clayton appears on Michelle Young’s Bachelorette season.
That's right—Bachelor Nation has only just met Clayton, on Michelle Young's Bachelorette season. Here he is:
Season 26's host, former Bachelor Jesse Palmer, posted a sneak peek at Clayton's new role in a recent Instagram post: "Meet my younger, bigger, better looking brother from another mother, @claytonechard 🌹#TheBachelor," he wrote in the caption.
Looks like these two are already off-camera buds (do I smell a bromance brewing?).
Bachelor franchise producer Mike Fleiss first shared the news on Twitter in mid-September: "Major Announcement!!! Your new #TheBachelor is a great guy from Michelle’s season of #TheBachelorette . Can’t wait for you to meet him!" he wrote.
— Mike Fleiss (@fleissmeister) September 16, 2021
In another Tweet, Reality Steve also confirmed that Clayton "is from Michelle’s season. So he’ll be 3 weeks into filming his season before you ever see him on your screen" (exciting!!).
(UPDATE): It is official. Clayton Echard is the next Bachelor. He is from Michelle’s season. So he’ll be 3 weeks into filming his season before you ever see him on your screen. They will be filming at Eureka HS tmrw - his old high school - for more intro package footage. pic.twitter.com/HkUF6HbGZ7
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) September 15, 2021
Filming for Clayton’s season is officially over.
Clayton was spotted filming what looks like a promo shoot in his hometown, according to E! News. Then, Reality Steve confirmed on Twitter that actual filming started in Los Angeles, California, on Sept. 28.
Another Steve Tweet revealed the exact date when the limos first made it to the mansion.
(ANOTHER FILMING UPDATE): My bad. Totally screwing up my days. What I originally reported was correct. Limo arrivals are tonight at the mansion for Clayton’s season. And Salley definitely won’t be there first night. She’s already home.
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) September 29, 2021
Steve also wrote in a blog post that Clayton and his final four ladies were filming hometown dates as of Nov. 2nd. Plus, he added that Clayton's final four rose ceremony was filmed on Nov. 9th. I can smell that final rose from here!
Then, on Nov. 23, Steve shared that "filming ended this past weekend." So, yep, Clayton and his mystery winner are officially relaxing (and hiding) in style!
And, the Bachelor has already hinted about how his season will end.
"It doesn't feel real at times," Clayton told Good Morning America. "I was so incredibly honored and humbled to have had the experience, learned a lot about myself and it has been quite the journey," he continued.
He also dropped a small spoiler for his season: "I did find love, and I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey but I'm so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than what I had thought," Clayton said. "I'm just so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well." (Same!)
Former Bachelor Jesse Palmer will host this season.
Yep—Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are off the hook (for now). Reality Steve relayed the news in a recent blog post. "Yesterday was it was officially announced by ABC that former 'Bachelor,' former host of 'The Proposal,' current host of 'The Ultimate Surfer,' and current ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer has been named the new host of the 'Bachelor,'" he wrote.
Here he is, in case you need a refresher:
Plus, Steve has a hunch that this season might not be Jesse's last: "I highly doubt Jesse is gonna be a one season host. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. I would think he’s definitely the Bachelor/ette host, with BIP in question," he explained.
Either way, he'll definitely have plenty of advice for Clayton.
This season will start at The Mansion.
Even without Chris Harrison, the famous Bachelor mansion (a.k.a. Villa de la Vena in Malibu, California) will be back this season. Reality Steve explained that "filming starts at the mansion this season" on his blog. See ya later, Nemacolin.
Here's a quick refresher on the mansion, since it hasn't made a TV appearance since Pilot Pete's season. It's a 10,000 square foot Mediterranean-style residence with a pool and some seriously stunning views of the California countryside, according to the building's website.
In case you forgot how truly huge it is, here's a pic:
I, for one, am so ready to see a black SUV in that driveway again!
Plus, international dates are back and better than ever this season.
Also, contestants will finally get to use their passports again this season. Reality Steve explained in a Tweet that Clayton and the ladies will be adventuring all around the U.S. and Europe this season.
"Now, travel begins," he wrote. Episode 4 will take place in Houston, Texas, and episode 5 will move to Vancouver, Canada. Then, it's off to Vienna, Austria, and Croatia before hometowns happen in episode 8.
(BACHELOR FILMING UPDATE): Rose ceremony #3 was last night at the mansion. Now travel begins.
Ep 4 - Houston
Ep 5 - Vancouver, Canada
Ep 6 - Vienna, Austria
Ep 7 - Croatia
Ep 8 - Hometowns
Haven’t heard about overnights & final rose ceremony yet. Will update when I do.
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) October 9, 2021
And, Steve also confirmed that hometown dates will be filmed in the contestants' actual hometowns again (whew!). "They are doing it like they always had pre-pandemic," he wrote. "What’s amazing is he just traveled to 4 different hometowns starting last Tuesday, and not one picture got out from any of the hometowns," Steve explained. "I can’t remember the last time that happened."
Then, on Nov. 10th, Steve revealed that overnight dates and Clayton's finale will be filmed somewhere snowy—Iceland, to be specific. "Jesse Palmer posted a pic on his IG stories this morning on a plane again. Everyone’s headed to Iceland today for overnight dates and final rose ceremony," he wrote. No word yet on where the ladies and Clayton were staying, though.
And, Reality Steve already has all the details on what goes down this season.
Of course, Reality Steve knows all about what's going down on set. The very first group date will have a children's birthday party theme, he Tweeted (you're as confused as I am RN).
Steve even dug up the casting call for the partygoers:
Here’s the casting call for what they’re looking for on Friday. Hey, diversity A+!!!! It’s only the 44th season of this show. Looks like this’ll be something similar to what Kimmel does with asking kids questions to get wild ass responses. Fun times. pic.twitter.com/1R4WIQug3w
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) September 29, 2021
"We are looking for 10 fun-loving, sassy, questioning pranksters to attend a kids Birthday Party with our contestants in a Mansion," the announcement reads. "Strong 'in-the-moment' improvisation skills required. There will be cake eating, face-painters, games, balloons and all the things kids would rather be doing, than a Friday morning in school."
As if grabbing the Bachelor's attention on night one wasn't hard enough! And, speaking of night one, Steve also dropped the name of the lucky lady who wins Clayton's first impression rose: Teddi Wright. But unfortunately, she "has yet to receive a 1-on-1 date," he Tweeted.
Other group dates have included a Baywatch-themed day at the beach and a night out at Clifton's Republic Lounge in downtown Los Angeles, California. Steve's been Tweeting up a storm with all the details:
(CLAYTON DATE SPOILER): Yesterdays group date was Baywatch themed at the beach. 10 women had to wear the iconic red one piece from the show and compete in life guard related activities. Gabby Windey “won” and got extra time with Clayton.
Tonight is rose ceremony #3. pic.twitter.com/DKba7FEcFi
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) October 8, 2021
And Page Six reported some photos from the beachy day out, complete with iconic red swimsuits, ofc.
There's already a frontrunner, according to Reality Steve—and her name is Serene Russell. Serene has already had two one-on-one dates with Clayton, he Tweeted, adding that "all indications are that Serene will make final 4 and get a hometown date."
(SPOILER): Clayton and Serene Russell on a 1-on-1 date today in Vienna, Austria at Hofburg Palace. Serene was the woman who had the 1-on-1 in Houston at the Galveston Pleasure Pier (pic added).
All indications are that Serene will make final 4 and get a hometown date. pic.twitter.com/Rpf08Zdbzv
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) October 30, 2021
Plus, there's some juicy drama going down at the mansion. "Someone who gets a group date rose, gets it taken away from them at the rose ceremony and sent home," Reality Steve explained in another Tweet. Sounds like someone definitely wasn't there for the right reasons...
Could it be this season's villain? That role goes to contestant Shanae Arkney, Steve revealed. TBD on what exactly lands her in the hot seat, but it doesn't sound good. He also posted a few quick video snaps from Shanae's two-on-one date at Niagara Falls.
(SPOILER VIDEOS): These were taken at Queen Victoria Park, then they took a Maid of the Mist boat ride to Dufferin Island Park.
Hey, Jim and Pam got married on Maid of the Mist! pic.twitter.com/LCk5XxRV43
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) October 20, 2021
And (although Steve doesn't know who yet) he confirmed that "there is a woman this season who was texting a guy in the hotel pre-show before she got her phone taken away. This becomes a storyline on the show." Juicy!
(SPOILER): It's Friday Fun Day! (not a real nickname). A mini spoiler from Clayton’s season:
There is a woman this season who was texting a guy in the hotel pre-show before she got her phone taken away. This becomes a storyline on the show.
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) November 19, 2021
He’s already looking ahead to Clayton’s final four.
The king of spoilers also has brand new info about Clayton's final four. Clayton's very first hometown date was in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with contestant Susie Evans, he wrote on his blog.
Later, Steve confirmed exactly who Clayton's final four will be: Susie Evans, Rachel Recchia, Serene Russell, and Gabby Windey. "Susie’s hometown filmed yesterday," Steve Tweeted on Nov. 3rd. "Not confirmed on the remaining order, but guess is Rachel tomorrow in Orlando (she doesn’t live Chicago anymore), Serene on Saturday in Oklahoma City, & Gabby on Monday in Denver."
(BACHELOR SPOILER): Here are your final 4 for Clayton’s season. Susie’s hometown filmed yesterday. Not confirmed on the remaining order, but guess is Rachel tomorrow in Orlando (she doesn’t live Chicago anymore), Serene on Saturday in Oklahoma City, & Gabby on Monday in Denver. pic.twitter.com/JaMTqE7vBg
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) November 3, 2021
Steve later corrected his theory—turns out Rachel's hometown was actually filmed in Kings Landing in Apopka, Florida. Here's a preview (it looks stunning, obvi):
(HOMETOWN FILMING UPDATE): Clayton and Rachel Recchia currently filming at Kings Landing in Apopka, FL which is a canoe and kayak rental place. (Pic is not them. Just a stock photo of Kings Landing). pic.twitter.com/ORixtJ1usm
— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) November 4, 2021
So, who does Clayton end up with?
Since the finale has only just been filmed, there's still no word yet on which of his final four ladies Clayton ended up with (or someone else—you never know what could go down on set!). More specific details are still TBD, for now.
Stay tuned for more details on Clayton's journey to find love, and get ready for the season 26 premiere, coming on Jan. 3rd, 2022.
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