Here’s Whether Clayton & His ‘Bachelor’ Winner Are Still Together After His Controversial Finale

Clayton Echard, "The Bachelor"
Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin.

Warning: The Bachelor spoilers ahead. Since rumors of his Bachelor winner leaked, fans have wanted to know: Are Clayton and Susie still together from The Bachelor 2022 or did their love die like the rose he gave at the Final Rose Ceremony?

Clayton Echard, a 28-year-old medical sales rep from Columbia, Missouri, was a contestant on The Bachelorette season 18 with Michelle Young, where he was eliminated in eighth place. Clayton was announced as the season 26 Bachelor in November 2021, however, photos of him filming The Bachelor leaked in September 2021, a month before Michelle’s Bachelorette season even premiered. According to Reality Steve, several contestants from The Bachelorette season 17 with Katie Thurston were on the short list to be the next Bachelor, such as Greg Grippo and Andrew Spencer, but ABC chose Clayton for his story. “Clayton stood out right off the bat,” a source told Us Weekly at the time. “Producers ended up going with him because they believed he was the best fit for the role. They wanted to switch things up and go with someone new and someone who hasn’t been in the spotlight yet.” 

In an interview with Good Morning America in November 2021, Clayton confirmed that he found love on The Bachelor season 26. “I did find love, and I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey but I’m so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than what I had thought,” he said. “I’m just so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well.” Clayton also told Good Morning America that came into The Bachelor with a “checklist of sorts” but but the women surprised him when “they brought all of that and so much more.”

So…are Clayton and Susie still together from The Bachelor 2022? Read on for what we know about Clayton and Susie’s relationship after the Final Rose Ceremony and whether they’re still dating after he chose her as his winner. (For more Bachelor 2022 spoilers, click here.)

Who is The Bachelor 2022 winner?

Susie, "The Bachelor" 2022

Image: ABC/Ricky Middlesworth.

Who won The Bachelor 2022? Reality Steve confirmed that the winner of The Bachelor season 26 with Clayton Echard is Susie Evans, a 28-year-old wedding videographer from Virginia Beach, Virginia, however, she rejects Clayton in the end. According to Reality Steve, Susie was eliminated in third place during Fantasy Suites after Clayton told her that he was in love and had sex with his other two finalists—Rachel Recchia, a 25-year-old flight instructor from Clermont, Florida, had the first, and Gabby Windey, a 30-year-old ICU nurse from Denver, Colorado—and Susie questioned how he could be serious about their relationship when he was intimate with someone else. The fight escalates, and Clayton decides to eliminate Susie after she tells him how she doesn’t know if she can stay on the show if he’s in love with other women.

At the final three Rose Ceremony with Rachel and Gabby, Clayton tells both Rachel and Gabby that he’s in love and had sex with both of them. Both Rachel and Gabby walk away and try to leave the show, which leads Clayton to beg them to stay. Both Rachel and Gabby agree to stay and Clayton gives them both roses. The finale continues with Gabby and Rachel meeting Clayton’s parents. After Gabby and Rachel’s meeting with Clayton’s parents, Clayton realizes that he still has feelings for Susie and decides to talk to her. Host Jesse Palmer knocks on Susie’s door and tells her that Clayton wants to talk to her. Susie agrees and she and Clayton reunite. Susie then also meets Clayton’s parents, after which he decides he wants to choose her at the Final Rose Ceremony and eliminate Rachel and Gabby. Clayton tells Rachel and Gabby about his decision separately in their hotel rooms. Rachel was more sad, while Gabby was more angry at Clayton. At the Final Rose Ceremony, Clayton arrives with an engagement ring and a plan to propose to Susie, but before he can do so, Susie tells Clayton that she’s not in love with him and walks away, which forces Clayton to leave The Bachelor single.

“I don’t think anyone expected it to end the way that it did, including myself, nor did I want it to be that way. There was a lot of things that I just never would’ve thought would’ve happened the way they did. So everyone will be kind of surprised. I wish it could have went any other direction, but it went the direction that it did. Ultimately, I had to react accordingly,” Clayton said of how his Bachelor season ended on the Women Tell All.  Reality Steve also reported that Clayton’s relationships with Rachel and Gabby ended once he eliminated with them, and there’s no hope for them to get back together after he was rejected by Susie. “There is zero chance he is rekindling anything with Gabby or Rachel. They have nothing to do with anything since they left Iceland,” Reality Steve wrote.

Reality Steve’s spoilers come after a Reddit post by @workingbach13 in December 2021 theorized that the final two were Susie or Rachel. The post suspected this because Susie and Rachel both followed Cary Fetman on Instagram. Cary is the Bachelor franchise’s stylist and costume designer who often styles the lead and the last two contestants for the Final Rose Ceremony.

The post speculated that Susie could’ve won Clayton’s Bachelor season because she was the first of the final three Bachelor contestants to return to social media, which has been consistent with past Bachelor and Bachelorette winners. Susie’s family and friends also follow Clayton on Instagram. A fan account has also posted an alleged screenshot of Susie commenting heart eye emojis on one of Clayton’s recent Instagram photos, which he liked. Susie also received the Pretty Woman date—a.k.a. a date where the lead and the contestant go on a shopping spree—in Vienna, Austria, in week seven, which has been indicative of other Bachelor and Bachelorette winners who have had similar dates, such as Rachel Kirkconnell from The Bachelor season 25 with Matt James; Hannah Ann Sluss from The Bachelor season 24 with Peter Weber; Becca Kufrin from The Bachelor season 22 with Arie Luyendyk Jr.; and Bryan Abasolo from The Bachelorette season 13 with Rachel Lindsay. Reality Steve also hinted in a tweet in November 2021 that there’s evidence that Susie won Clayton’s Bachelor season. “Do I post pics of Susie from Clayton’s season out last night so the subsequent dissection of the pics, freak out, and speculation from the fans can commence?” he tweeted.

The post, however, also speculated that Rachel could’ve won Clayton’s Bachelor season because she returned to social media at the exact time Clayton did. Rachel’s mom also followed Clayton on Instagram but unfollowed him when filming ended. Rachel Clayton also both liked the same Instagram photo of The Bachelor host Jesse Palmer 20 minutes after it was posted, even though Rachel doesn’t follow Jesse on Instagram. Rachel was also the only contestant from Clayton’s final three that liked season 18 Bachelorette Michelle Young’s first photo with her winner, Nayte Olukoya, which Clayton also liked.

For Clayton’s proposal to Susie, it’s almost certain that the ring was designed by Neil Lane, a celebrity jeweler, who has created engagement rings for The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise since 2008. In a 2016 interview with Entertainment Weekly, former host Chris Harrison revealed that Bachelor Nation couples have to stay together for a certain amount of time, otherwise they have to return the free engagement ring to Neil Lane. “There’s some rule, after a certain number of years, you get to keep it anyway,” he said. “But after months… it goes back.”

Lane told StyleCaster in 2016 that he doesn’t know where the rings go, but that he designs them with the hope that the couple to stays together. “I make rings hoping that people stay together forever, but after they get the ring, I don’t have a say in it, and what happens after that, I don’t know,” he said. “Where the ring goes, I have to say, I don’t really know. I just say it goes to ring heaven.”

Are Clayton and Susie still together from The Bachelor?

Susie, "The Bachelor"

Image: ABC/John Fleenor.

Are Clayton and Susie still together from The Bachelor 2022? The answer is yes. During his “After the Final Rose” special in March 2022, Clayton revealed that he left Iceland to “what I thought was my normal life” until Susie contacted him to ask him to take her back. “I was absolutely shocked there was maybe that came from all of it,” Clayton said. Susie later came out during the special and confirmed that she and Clayton were back together and still dating. “We’re really happy and we’re happy to be here today,” she said. “That’s my boyfriend.” Susie confessed that she and Clayton “took some steps back,” but are currently in love. “I can confidently say yeah, he’s incredible,” she said.

Clayton and Susie also confessed that they expect some backlash for their relationship and “could have done better” with how their finale played out. They also revealed that they’re planning to move to Virginia (Susie’s hometown) together and their relationship is “serious.” Engagement ring designer Neil Lane was in the audience, and host Jesse Palmer also asked Clayton if a proposal was coming, to which Clayton responded that he has other things for his relationship with Susie planned for now. Clayton then asked Susie if she would officially accept his final rose, to which she did.

Who is Susie from The Bachelor?

Susie E., "The Bachelor 2022"

Image: Courtesy of ABC.

Susie Evans is a 28-year-old wedding videographer from Virginia Beach, Virginia. According to her Linkedin, Susie graduated from Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri, with a bachelor’s of arts degree in digital cinema arts with a minor in communications in 2014. After she graduated, Susie worked as a performer for Tokyo Disneyland from 2016 to 2018, where she performed in parades, stage shows and in improvisational guest interactions as Disney characters. From 2019 to 2021, Susie worked as a program manager at Snow Companies in Williamsburg, Virginia. She was also the 2020 Miss Virginia USA and the 2011 Miss Virginia USA, the same role that Caelynn Miller-Keyes from The Bachelor season 23 with Colton Underwood held in 2013.

In her Bachelor bio, Susie listed “loyalty” as her “bottom line” for a partner. “Susie is a beauty queen with a passion for adventure. Whether it’s moving to Japan to experience a new culture or winning Miss Virginia 2020, Susie loves to defy expectations and is looking for a man who will keep life interesting,” her bio reads. “What Susie finds sexy is a thoughtful man who prioritizes quality time and creating shared experiences. With Susie, loyalty is the bottom line and she needs someone she can trust to her core. Above all, she wants someone who will always be there to support and encourage her dreams no matter where those dreams take her.”

For her fun facts, Susie listed the following:

• Susie would love to be a documentary filmmaker one day.

• Susie hates haunted houses.

• Susie is a Jiu-Jitsu champion.

Who is The Bachelor 2022, Clayton Echard? 

Clayton Echard, "The Bachelor" 2022

Image: ABC/John Fleenor.

In case you didn’t know: Clayton Echard is The Bachelor 2022. Clayton, a 28-year-old medical sales rep from Columbia, Missouri, was a contestant on The Bachelorette season 18 with Michelle Young. He was eliminated in week six in eighth place. He was sent home after a One-on-One date with Michelle, who told him that there’s “something missing” between them. “I just want to find love so badly,” he said in a confessional interview after his elimination. “And have a family. And start that chapter of my life. I want it more than anything else. I’ll do whatever it takes to get there. Whatever it takes.” After his elimination, Clayton received a letter from Michelle’s student, who cheers him on. “This just shows me I want kids one day,” Clayton said as he read the letter. The episode also shows a producer asking the student what should be next for Clayton, to which the student says, “He’ll be the next Bachelor.”

So who is The Bachelor 2022, Clayton Echard? According to his Linkedin, Clayton graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in health professions and related clinical sciences. He’s also set to earn a Master of Business Administration in health and healthcare from Southeast Missouri State University in 2023. Clayton has worked a sales representative at Stryker, a medical devices company, since January 2018. He was hired in 2016 as a sales associate.

While at the University of Missouri, Clayton was a division 1 collegiate athlete for the university’s football team, the Missouri Tigers. After graduation, he was a professional NFL player for the Seattle Seahawks from August to September 2016. “After outperforming 4 other tight ends on a tryout basis with the Seattle Seahawks, I signed on as a free agent. While there, I practiced daily with the team and played in 4 preseason games. I made it past the first round of cuts, however, I was not able to make the final roster. Nonetheless, it was a unique experience that I was blessed to be a part of,” Clayton’s Linkedin reads. According to his Instagram, @claytonechard, Clayton is also a former freestyle rapper and refers to himself as a “washed-up athlete.” He confirmed that his current industry is still orthopaedic sales.

In his bio for Michelle’s Bachelorette season, Clayton described his “perfect woman” as someone who is “funny, independent, intelligent and athletic enough to join him at the gym for a workout.” “Clayton is a Missouri thoroughbred who has it all – good looks, a great job and a wonderful family,” his bio read. “The only thing missing is the perfect woman with whom to share his life. His dream woman is funny, independent, intelligent and athletic enough to join him at the gym for a workout. He wants to find something truly special and is willing to put in the hard work to find love that will last forever. Clayton is so excited to meet Michelle and loves that she has a passion for her career. His mom is a teacher just like Michelle, and he finds it impressive that she’s made this journey work without having to take time away from her students. Clayton truly believes that Michelle could be the perfect match for him. Will they hit it off?”

For his fun facts, Clayton listed the following:

– Clayton had a mohawk in college.

– Clayton’s rapping alter ego is named Clay-Doh.

– Clayton would love to own multiple gyms

The Bachelor airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC and is available to stream on Hulu. Here’s how to watch it for free.

"Bachelor Nation" by Amy Kaufman

Image: Courtesy of Penguin Books.

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

To get more of an inside scoop, check out Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman’s book, Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure, for a deep dive into the Bachelor franchise. The book uncovers the secrets of Bachelor Nation, from how much the Bachelor and the Bachelorette are paid to the rules contestants have to follow, that producers don’t want fans to know. It’s a must-read for any Bachelor Nation member.

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