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The Bachelorette has long been an outlet for ABC to rope in television viewers in the most coveted age demographics, but apparently, that's not all the reality series is good for. The Bachelorette has proven it can put butts on couch seats, but, apparently, the state of Virginia is also hoping the show can put butts on a plane, train, or automobile seat as well, because the state paid the show a ton for featuring Richmond, Virginia in a recent episode. It's been revealed that Virginia paid around $536,130.38 for the show to grace its great state, and the tourism department is hoping the investment pays off.
Virginia is for lovers, and the Virginia Tourism Corp. hoped audiences would be reminded of that when watching the state-centric episode of The Bachelorette. The tourism department shelled out an initial $300,000 to the show in order to secure an episode of the series that showed the currently engaged Becca Kufrin and her goofy, occasionally offensive, and somewhat disturbing suitors having a ball in Richmond, and then paid an additional price of $236,130.38 to offset costs of filming in the state. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the additional costs covered the cast and production crew's rooms, food, production space, internet, and parking for the episode, which just shows how expensive television programs can be.
In return for its investment, The Bachelorette was obligated to verbally mention the slogan "Virginia is for lovers" at least once, feature at least one LOVE sign in the episode, and feature a promotional link to a "Virginia is for lovers" website alongside some other mentions. Experts and organizers of the partnership believed that The Bachelorette's consistent audience and trending ability on platforms like Twitter would convince others to visit the state when they're on vacation as opposed to other popular American vacation spots. The tactic is not unheard of, as Lake Tahoe, Nevada had previously done the same thing with The Bachelor in an attempt to inspire tourism in its area.
While costly, the over half a million dollar investment didn't hurt the Virginia Tourism Corp's budget all that much. The organization's budget for 2018 was $26.8 million, so, in perspective, $536,130.38 is somewhat of a drop in the bucket. Additionally, those involved with the effort said the cost paid to The Bachelorette was lower than paying for marketing in a state like New York, which exceeds the state's budgeting restrictions.
Unfortunately, some Virginia residents aren't that happy with The Bachelorette's portrayal of Richmond, which featured an Edgar Allen Poe Museum "Unhappy Hour" and Abraham Lincoln and George Washington re-enactors. Some residents felt the show's representation made Richmond seem "boring," and that the episode was too weighed down in the city's history. The Virginia Tourism board apparently made plenty of suggestions for places the show could film, although ultimately it was up to The Bachelorette and its producers on what the show did.