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Rumored Bachelor Season 26 Star Hypes Upcoming Appearance On Local News Despite ABC's Silence

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Spoiler alert: The following story discusses the man who is rumored to be the Season 26 Bachelor. Proceed with caution if you’d prefer to wait for ABC’s official announcement.

ABC may not have given the official word yet, and we may not have even met Michelle Young’s gang of suitors on The Bachelorette Season 18 yet, but that’s not stopping one of those men from talking about what is assumed to be his own journey to find love. Rumored Season 26 Bachelor Clayton Echard and an ABC film crew were in his home town of Eureka, Missouri last week, where he spoke to well-wishers who gathered downtown to watch the shoot. So the local news is calling it, but still no official word from the show itself.

Clayton Echard, a 28-year-old orthopedic sales representative and contestant on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, was confirmed by multiple media outlets, including Reality Steve, to be the next Bachelor, but there’s been radio silence from ABC. We’re still a month away from seeing Echard first exit the limo to vie for Michelle Young’s heart (which, apparently doesn’t work out), but the former Missouri football player was shown on the local news channel Fox2Now giving fans a peek into his state of mind as he prepares for his second chance at love. In his words:

I’m excited. I’m also very, very nervous. I’m looking to find my person.

With talk of becoming the next Bachelor this early on being such a taboo subject in the Bachelor franchise, it’s so strange to see a contestant from a season that hasn’t aired yet already making public statements about being the next lead. It's about as labyrinthian a concept as it gets for Bachelor Nation. Remember when Katie Thurston showed Thomas Jacobs the door for his Bachelor audition” on The Bachelorette Season 17?

Filming for Michelle Young’s season has already wrapped, so it’s not as though Clayton Echard did anything wrong by speaking publicly, and with the way producers allegedly fell in love with him while filming The Bachelorette, I assume it’s clear he was there for “the right reasons.” ABC’s decision to air two seasons of The Bachelorette without a season of The Bachelor in between is what has thrown the whole process for a loop. The assumption at first was that the Season 26 Bachelor would come from Katie Thurston’s season. But after that came and went without any updates, viewers were halfway through the airing of Bachelor in Paradise Season 7 when news broke that we hadn’t even met the next Bachelor yet.

But while I find it strange that ABC is allowing the publicity to swirl around Clayton Echard without an official announcement, the network seemed to be fully involved in the gathering in downtown Eureka last week, as a huge banner that read “Go Find Love Clayton!” was provided (and paid for) by ABC, according to Eureka’s mayor, Sean Flower. Check out the banner and the mayor’s invitation to come out and support Echard below.

It’s possible ABC will wait until Clayton Echard’s debut on The Bachelorette — and possibly even his elimination — before making an official statement on the Season 26 lead. It also remains to be seen who will host the next season of The Bachelor, which is set to air early in 2022. In the meantime, things are heating up on the beaches of Bachelor in Paradise, and we’ll all be tuning in to The Bachelorette when it premieres at 8 p.m. ET, Tuesday, October 19, on ABC. Be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV Schedule for the upcoming premiere dates of all your favorite shows.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.