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As The Bachelor Celebrates 20th Anniversary, Nick Viall Reveals Double-Edged Sword Of Bachelor Nation Fame

Nick Viall on The Bachelorette.
(Image credit: ABC)

If you’ve watched even one episode of The Bachelor, you’ve likely heard the phrase “Here for the right reasons.” The words are uttered so often they’re really just a cue for Bachelor drinking games. But there’s a reason housemates’ intentions are constantly questioned — many contestants get famous. So who’s there to find love, and who’s there to promote their brand and get more Instagram followers? Season 21 lead Nick Viall knows a thing or two about being Bachelor Nation famous, and as the franchise celebrates its 20th anniversary, he revealed the biggest thing the show can do for its contestants, as well as the cost that comes with it.

Few people know the ins and outs of Bachelor Nation better than Nick Viall. Viall competed on two seasons of The Bachelorette, ending as the runner-up for both Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe. He tried his hand at Bachelor in Paradise before becoming the leading man himself, where he was briefly engaged to Vanessa Grimaldi. He now talks all things love on his podcast, The Viall Files. Because he’s parlayed his extensive Bachelor Nation resume into a media career, Viall said he’s often approached by other contestants for advice, and recently told Variety the most valuable thing the experience provides its casts is “incredible access.”

Some of the biggest celebrities, athletes, politicians and business leaders are fans of the show, and many of us alums have found ourselves in rooms, hanging out with people we once would have paid money to see and waited hours in line to do it. That’s access, and access is the most valuable thing the show gives you. People say, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ and being a member of Bachelor Nation can open up the door to knowing very important and influential people you might have never had the chance to meet.

It’s actually surprising how much access some cast members get for appearing on a Bachelor franchise show. From Katie Thurston and new boyfriend Jon Hersey walking the red carpet at the People’s Choice Awards to Michelle Young and her fiance Nayte Olukoya attending Rihanna’s Fenty Skin event, where they hung out with the singer and A$AP Rocky, being part of Bachelor Nation unquestionably opens doors for its members.

However, Nick Viall cautioned, people may be fascinated by the Bachelor Nation experience, but fascination doesn’t require respect. Just because you have access to high-profile events and celebrities, that doesn’t mean your opinion on anything outside of the show is going to carry much weight. That warning doesn’t always sit well with former cast members, he said:

It can be a sobering realization to consider that, despite the attention and social media follows and heart-eyes emojis we receive while on the show, most of the new influential people we have access to aren’t all that interested in what we have to say about things that don’t pertain to our experience on the show. They aren’t all interested in what we hope to make of this experience, and it’s certainly not a priority for them to make sure we are successful after the show. Why should they, anyway? The people we are excited to suddenly have access to are people who put in the time and work to be in rooms that we suddenly found ourselves in.

That makes sense. Being on a reality dating show likely doesn’t grant you a lot of credibility amongst people who worked for years to gain the same kind of access. Nick Viall said he advises contestants to surprise people with their humility and show that they’re willing to put in hard work and be patient.

Twenty years ago when The Bachelor Season 1 premiered on March 25, 2002, there wasn’t much concern about people going on the show for fame or to grow their business. Social media has really changed the game for the dating show, and it’s an interesting topic to dissect two decades later. 

With Clayton Echard’s history-making season recently coming to an end, we’ve got a bit of a break before Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey join forces as co-leads of The Bachelorette (hopefully with Rachel’s dad and Gabby’s grandpa making appearances). Stay tuned for updates on Season 19, and in the meantime, check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what other premieres are coming soon.

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.