Clayton From Michelle’s ‘Bachelorette’ Season Is the Next Bachelor—Here Were Other Contenders

Clayton, "The Bachelor" 2022
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.

Now that Katie’s Bachelorette season is over, Bachelor Nation members have just one question: Who is the next Bachelor for 2022? Well, there’s more than one candidate who could be Bachelor Nation’s next leading man, but only one can hand out roses.

The next Bachelor will be the lead of The Bachelor season 26. Given that the season 25 Bachelor, Matt James, wasn’t on a previous Bachelorette season, ABC had at least three Bachelorette seasons to choose from for their next male lead: The Bachelorette season 16 with Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams; The Bachelorette season 17 with Katie Thurston; and The Bachelorette season 18 with Michelle Young.

That isn’t including contestants from Bachelorette seasons who’ve already had Bachelors, such as season 15 with Hannah Brown, or fan-favorite men who could come out of Bachelor in Paradise season 7. For the past 12 seasons, The Bachelor has premiered in January, and if season 26 follows the same schedule, fans can expect the new season around then.

So who is the next Bachelor for 2022? Well, ABC hasn’t made that announcement yet, but Reality Steve revealed that the following man was chosen as the next Bachelor. Read on to find out who it is.

Who is the next Bachelor 2022?

Clayton, "The Bachelorette" 2021

Image: Courtesy of ABC.

So who is the next Bachelor for 2022? His name is Clayton Echard, and he’s a contestant Bachelor Nation just met. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed in September 2021 that the season 26 Bachelor will be a contestant from The Bachelorette season 18 with Michelle Young, which premieres on October 19, 2021. This means that ABC decided on the next Bachelor for 2022 before viewers even watched Michelle’s Bachelorette season. THR reported that filming started for The Bachelor season 26 at the end of September 2021, and the season will premiere in January 2022.

Though several contestants from The Bachelorette season 17 with Katie Thurston were on the short list to be the next Bachelor (including Greg Grippo and Andrew Spencer), THR reported that the chosen contestant from Michelle’s season has a story that “resonated most with producers, who leaned toward giving the newcomer a second chance.” E! News confirmed on September 15, 2021, that the next Bachelor for 2022 will be Clayton Echard, a 28-year-old orthopedic sales representative from Eureka, Missouri. E! News published photos of Clayton with an ABC camera crew filming promos for The Bachelor season 18 at his home in Eureka, and a source even confirmed to the site that the initials of next Bachelor are “C.E.”

So who is Bachelor Clayton? Well, 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 tha his current industry is orthopaedic sales.  For a full list of Michelle’s Bachelorette contestants, click here.

Who were other Bachelor 2022 contenders?

Ahead are other Bachelorette alums who were contenders to be the next Bachelor in 2022, according to three former Bachelorettes.

Greg Grippo

Greg, "The Bachelorette" 2021

Image: Courtesy of ABC.

Original season: The Bachelorette season 17 (Katie Thurston)

When he was eliminated: 3rd place (quit)

Reality Steve reported on August 19, 2021, that Greg, a 27-year-old marketing sales representative from Edison, New Jersey, would be the next Bachelor for 2022. “What I’ve been hearing the past 5 days or so regarding the next Bachelor are this…been told it’s going to be Greg. Obviously it’s never ‘official’ until ABC announces it (whenever that may be), but at this point I would be very surprised if it’s not him,” Reality Steve tweeted at the time. That report, however, turned out to be incorrect.

Nevertheless, Reality Steve noted at the time that Greg would be a controversial choice but no different from other controversial Bachelors like season 21’s Nick Viall and season 23’s Colton Underwood. “They pick who they pick and there will always be people upset no matter what. Greg will be no different. I’m sure a certain podcast out there is now gonna have a conniption,” Reality Steve tweeted. He continued, “He’s a polarizing figure that will have people talking, which is what they want. But by all accounts and everything I’m being told, he’s your next Bachelor so, I guess let’s get the hot take machine fired up. Because here they come in full force.”

Greg quit in the final three of The Bachelorette season 17 after he told Katie that he loved her and she didn’t say it back. Katie told producers that she wanted to wait for the final rose ceremony to tell her winner that she loved him, but assured Greg that he was her “number one,” which bothered him even more.

“I don’t give a fuck about the rose. I was just telling you that you filled a hole in my heart,” he said. “I’ve never given up on you. I’ve fought so hard for you here…As much as it hurts me, I’ve reached my breaking point with this. I gave you everything. I really hope you find something.” In an Instagram post after their breakup aired, Katie accused Greg of “gaslighting,” which is a term fans and other Bachelor alums also used to describe Greg’s behavior

“I know he opened up to her and she said ‘the wrong thing’ but shutting down emotionally being like, ‘wut, nothing’s wrong why would you think that’ and then punishing with silence is emotional manipulation 101,” The Bachelor season 22 alum Bekah Martinez posted. “I can’t believe people are justifying this because of his trauma from his dad passing. Completely unacceptable and toxic behavior.”

Still, many contestants from Katie’s season rooted for Greg to be the next Bachelor. Andrew S. told Us Weekly, “Greg — first of all, it’s been the Gregerlorette so far. [We’ve] been watching him and just watching his, you know, his story. He looks like Ryan Gosling. He’s a freaking gorgeous man with a great personality. He’s my best friend. Both of those guys have my vote.” Tre also told Us Weekly, “Greg is just one of those guys that you can’t have a bad thing to say about him. I love him deeply and I want him to find his person. And so I think that he will be great for the show.”

Before Katie’s Bachelorette season, Greg was already in controversy. In April, the celebrity gossip Instagram account @DeuxMoi received an anonymous submission calling Greg a “manipulative liar” and an “actor.” “Greg G is a manipulative liar and actor on Katie’s season of the Bachelorette. He cleaned up his social media/Linkedin and removed all evidence of his aspiring acting career the past few years,” the submission read.

The anonymous source claimed that Greg attended William Esper Acting School from 2017 to 2019. In 2019, Greg posted an Instagram photo of himself in front of the William Esper Acting School celebrating his graduation. “What a journey. Forever grateful for these last two years @esperstudio,” he wrote in the caption.

In their @DeuxMoi submission, the source called Greg a “total ego-obsessed diva in class” and alleged that he wasn’t on The Bachelorette for the right reasons. “He is not on the show for love, let alone Katie, and his appearance on this show is solely to promote / kick-start his acting career,” the source wrote. @DeuxMoi’s source also claims that Greg has been living at his mother’s house since he graduated from college and “never had a real job up until recently likely because he needed a bio for the show.” (More on what Greg does later.)

In June, @DeuxMoi received a second anonymous tip from a source who claimed to be a friend of someone who dated one of Katie’s Bachelorette contestants. Though the source didn’t name Greg, many assume that the submission was about Katie’s frontrunner because of they describe him as an “actor.” “My best friend dated a fan favorite contestant on The Bachelorette very seriously for a year and a half and he was awful to her. This sweet shy boy act is exactly that, AN ACT,” the source wrote. “He really is actually an actor. I’ve personally witnessed him throw a fit and call her a terrible name for wearing a mini dress, so I can only imagine what happened behind closed doors.”

The source also described her friend and the contestant’s alleged breakup. “He broke up with her, she was extremely upset and then made her Uber an hour back to her apartment alone at 1am,” the source wrote. “We watched our kind, confident friend turn into a shell of herself and then get thrown to the curb. Of course his social media is perfectly curated now, he has an image to protect.”

@DeuxMoi’s source also claimed that the contestant believed to be Greg e-mailed The Bachelorette‘s producers while he was still in a relationship. “Oh and he had been emailing with producers for the show while they were dating; this exposure was always part of his plan to launch his career so whoever wrote that first post is on point,” the source wrote, referencing the previous @DeuxMoi submission.

It’s important to note that @DeuxMoi is an un-fact-checked Instagram account, so neither of these submissions are confirmed. Though, from a look at Greg’s Instagram account, it’s at least confirmed that he’s an aspiring actor and attended William Esper Acting School.

Michael Allio

Michael A., "The Bachelorette" 2021

Image: Courtesy of ABC.

Original season: The Bachelorette season 17 (Katie Thurston)

When he was eliminated: 4th place (quit)

Michael A., a 36-year-old business owner from Akron, Ohio, quit in fourth place on The Bachelorette season 17 to be with his 4-year-old son, James. Michael A.’s wife, Laura, died in 2019, which left him as a single dad. During the “Men Tell All,” Michael A. told hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe that he would “100 percent” give his relationship with Katie another chance. “It feels as though we left so much unsaid,” he said. “I know how beautiful a marriage can be. I know how great that bond is. So I wanted to let her know that’s where we were heading.”

Katie, for her part, revealed that she has moved on with someone else, which means that Michael A. is still single. “I have nothing but love and respect for Michael,” Katie said. “But ultimately, I could not dwell on the past. I had to continue to move forward, and my ending is ultimately how everything was supposed to happen. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason, and that’s something I still believe in to this day.”

In an interview with Us Weekly, Katie revealed that Michael A. and Andrew S. were her top picks for the next Bachelor. “My two votes are going to be Andrew and Michael for the next Bachelor,” she said. “I think they just both have a lot to offer and I think they are in a place where they are ready to really settle down and they’ve really grown a lot as men.”

Tayshia, the season 16 Bachelorette, and Kaitlyn, the season 11 Bachelorette, also chose Michael A. and Andrew S. as their choices as their top picks for the next Bachelor. “I think we both can agree with Michael A. and Andrew. They’re just such lovable men. They have so much to offer, and it would be amazing to see them find love,” Tayshia said.

Michael A. also had the support of many of his former Bachelorette contestants from Katie’s season. Aaron Clancy told Us Weekly, “It’s one of those things. It depends ‘cause I don’t know who won, but I’d say Mike A. is such a stud, like, it’s hard not to champion him.” Tre Cooper also rooted for Michael A. “Obviously, there’s tons of great guys on our season, but I think that, for me, I want Michael to find someone. And so I think that being the Bachelor would give him a chance to meet a bunch of quality women and have a really good time to, like, explore a lot in ways that he might not have been able to explore living at home. It’s hard in the dating world right now,” he said.

Even Andrew S., another popular candidate for the next Bachelor, told Us Weekly that he wanted Michael A. to be the franchise’s next leading man. “Michael A., I mean, if he didn’t make you cry, something’s wrong with your tear ducts,” he said. “He’s just such a genuine guy. One of the things that he said that I love most is that he knows how to love, and he’s been through a marriage. He’s been through death. He’s been through children, childbirth, like, that’s a guy who really understands and gets it.”

Andrew Spencer

Andrew S., "The Bachelorette" 2021

Image: Courtesy of ABC.

Original season: The Bachelorette season 17 (Katie Thurston)

When he was eliminated: 5th place

Andrew S., a 26-year-old professional football player from Vienna, Austria, was eliminated in fifth place on The Bachelorette season 17 at the rose ceremony before Hometown Dates. After his elimination, Andrew S. met Katie at her hotel room, where she told him that she still has feelings for him. When Andrew S. left Katie’s room, Katie ran after him and invited to come back to her season. But in the end, Andrew S. turned down Katie’s offer.

“For a good couple weeks, I debated whether I made the right decision or not. But ultimately, it came down to [the fact that] she already told me she had stronger connections with the other guys,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “For me to jump back in knowing I’m already behind, it was just something I didn’t want to put my heart through again.”

Andrew S. is also a popular candidate for the next Bachelor. Along with Katie, Tayshia and Kaitlyn, Michael A. also rooted for Andrew S. to be the next Bachelor. “There’s just a lot of great guys. I would say Andrew — Andrew’s a great guy, you know, he’s well-spoken, he’s honest and he’s in it,” he told Us Weekly.

Ben Smith

Ben: The Bachelorette 2020

Image: ABC.

Original season: The Bachelorette season 16 (Tayshia Adams & Clare Crawley)

When he was eliminated: 2nd place

Ben, a 31-year-old army ranger veteran from Venice, California, was a finalist on season 16 of The Bachelorette. He was eliminated by Tayshia in the final four after Hometown Dates but came back to her season during the final three. Ben made it to the final two before he was eliminated by Tayshia again before the Final Rose Ceremony.

Though former host Chris Harrison was in support of Ben being the next Bachelor, season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay claimed that he was too “desperate” to be the next Lead. “Ben 1,000 percent wants to be the Bachelor,” she said on the “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast. “I beg producers, please don’t do it. We’ve been here before with the person who is so desperate to be the lead. It never works out. When they want it so badly, when they’ve been planning for it, calculating, made certain moves to get to that point and then you give it to them, it always messes up. There are so many great men from the Clare/Tayshia season. Don’t pick him. I don’t want to see it.”

In an interview on the “Off the Vine” podcast, Ben denied that he went on The Bachelorette to be the next Bachelor. He told host Kaitlyn Bristowe that he went on the show because “something might happen that’s great,” but he never planned on becoming the next Bachelor. “I never had any intentions of doing anything more,” he said.

Mike Johnson

 Clayton From Michelles Bachelorette Season Is the Next Bachelor—Here Were Other Contenders

Image: Courtesy of The Riker Brothers.

Original season: The Bachelorette season 15 (Hannah Brown)

When he was eliminated: 6th place

Mike, a 33-year-old portfolio manager from San Antonio, Texas, came in sixth place on The Bachelorette season 15. He was eliminated by Hannah after a one-on-one date before Hometown Dates, where she told him that she had stronger connections with other men. Though there were rumors that Mike was in the running to be the season 24 Bachelor (which would’ve made him the first Black Bachelor before Matt James), the role went to Peter Weber, the second runner-up on Hannah’s season, instead.

Still, there is support for Mike to be the next Bachelor. Michael A. told Us weekly, “I think Mike Johnson’s the man too, personally, but I mean, whatever happens, happens. There’s a lot of good dudes out there. They’re not going to have to skimp on the next person, you know? You’re not going to get a Kirkland brand version. They’re going to be alright.”

In an interview with Variety in 2020, Mike revealed that he still doesn’t know why he wasn’t chosen to be the Bachelor for season 24. “I’m like no other Bachelor in the past,” he said. “I’m not white, I have tattoos, I’m a veteran of the Air Force and I speak my mind.” He continued, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I really do. I was never given a reason, ever. I don’t know. I just know that they chose who they chose. I really do wish I knew more.”

Despite what happened, Mike told StyleCaster in 2020 that he’s open to returning to the Bachelor franchise. “If I am not in love, I have no opposition to not do it,” he said.

The Bachelor is available to stream on Hulu.

"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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