The Bachelorette Spoilers: Is ABC Finally About To Announce The Season 26 Bachelor?

Michelle Young stands at a rose ceremony on The Bachelorette
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette, and rumors about The Bachelor Season 26. Consider yourself warned!

Unless you’ve been stubbornly avoiding the spoilers (and power to you if you’ve been able to), you know that Clayton Echard, one of Michelle Young’s suitors on the current season of The Bachelorette, has been widely rumored to be The Bachelor for the upcoming Season 26. It’s more than just a rumor, though, isn’t it? He’s been caught filming with ABC camera crews, and Jesse Palmer, the new host of The Bachelor, has posted Instagram photos with Echard using “#TheBachelor.” Well it looks like the time might have finally come for ABC to announce the inevitable.

Promos for the November 23 episode of The Bachelorette focus on Clayton Echard, with voiceover from Michelle Young explaining that he’s not her person. So all indications are that Jesse Palmer's "brother from another mother" is about to be eliminated in a dramatically teased “moment that changes everything,” clearing the way for ABC to finally announce him as the next Bachelor. Check out the trailer below:

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It’s rare that that promo material would focus so heavily on one of the contestants — especially one that is about to be sent home — rather than the actual lead of the season. One thing that seems really strange is that the promo implies that Michelle Young breaks up with Clayton Echard in a note. Echard is shown reading a message as Young seemingly narrates its contents. I have trouble believing Young — who has shown unwavering integrity, as well as the ability to face hard conversations head-on — would break up with any one of her men with a note. And what exactly is meant by “the moment that changes everything” in there?

Either the video is misleading (The Bachelorette editors misleading? NO WAY!), or producers asked Michelle Young to write the note as a way to make Clayton Echard a more sympathetic Season 26 lead. Not that he really needs a lot of help. Echard has seemed like a likable — if somewhat unremarkable — guy so far on The Bachelorette. He’s a fun-loving former football player, he's close with his family, and he hasn’t gotten involved in any of the house drama. I don’t think producers need to make a villain of Young in any way to get people on board with Echard.

Fans of The Bachelor franchise have been waiting a long time for the announcement of the Season 26 lead. After Matt James’ season, it was announced that two seasons of The Bachelorette would air back-to-back, as well as Bachelor in Paradise Season 7 before The Bachelor returns January 3, 2022. On top of finding a new lead, ABC also had to get itself a new host, after Chris Harrison was fired for comments made in defense of Rachael Kirkconnell amid her racism scandal.

When Katie Thurston’s season of The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise came and went with no Bachelor announcement, it was presumed that the Season 26 lead would come from Michelle Young’s season. And while Clayton Echard became widely reported in the media to be the man, ABC has remained mum.

Is ABC’s vow of silence about to be broken? Is Clayton Echard about to get the boot from Michelle Young? Tune in to The Bachelorette at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday on ABC to find out. And check out our 2021 TV Schedule to see what else is coming up through the end of the year.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.