‘The Bachelor’ Finale: Matt James Chooses (Spoiler) After Controversial Season

SPOILER ALERT: This report contains details about tonight’s season-ending episode of The Bachelor.

After a season unlike any other for The Bachelor, its history-making beau has handed out the final rose to Rachael Kirkconnell, the contestant who ignited controversy when racially insensitive photos from her college days resurfaced last month.

Finalist Michelle Young was left as the runner-up. But, as often has been the case during the show’s 2021 cycle, there’s more to the story. During the After the Final Role post-finale special, Young was announced as one of two Bachelorettes, along with fellow Season 25 contestant Katie Thurston, who will each headline a season to air in 2021. (Thurston’s will air in the summer, Young’s in the fall.)

Despite Matt James, the show’s first Black leading man, choosing Kirkconnell over Young, he also told her he couldn’t propose. So without the usual season-ending marriage proposal, the pair left together.

‘The Bachelor’ Matt James Responds To Chris Harrison, Rachael Kirkconnell Controversies

The two-hour episode ended an unusual season of the long-running reality hit that saw photos of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018. She apologized for the photos, noting that she was ignorant and that her “ignorance was racist.”

The issue escalated after Kirkconnell’s photos became the topic of an interview on Extra between Chris Harrison — who had hosted the ABC dating-competition show since its 2002 launch — and contestant Lindsay. In the interview, Harrison defended the season’s front-runner, noting that the photos were taken a long time ago and suggesting that Kirkconnell had become a target of cancel culture.

He later issued an apology amid a social media backlash, and Harrison eventually stepped aside as host and did not appear on the series’ recap episode.

During the After the Rose special, hosted by Emmanuel Acho, James revealed that he broke up with Kirkconnell after the controversial photos surfaced.

Chris Harrison Says He Plans “To Be Back And I Want To Be Back”; Michael Strahan Sounds Off On ‘Bachelor’ Host’s “Surface Response” To Controversy

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