Shawntel Newton: Courtney gave 'Bachelor' Ben Flajnik an ultimatum
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/20/2012
Shawntel Newton, a former fifteenth-season The Bachelor bachelorette, attempted to join Ben Flajnik's bachelorettes and vie for his affection but was shockingly denied a rose and eliminated instead during Monday night's third episode of the ABC reality dating series' sixteenth season.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Shawntel, a funeral director from Chico, CA, talked to Reality TV World about her The Bachelor experience -- including what she thought about Ben's decision to keep the final rose for himself, whether she believes public image concerns played a role in his decision, and how she made it clear to Ben that she was interested in him during the conversations they had before he decided to appear on The Bachelor.
Reality TV World: What did you think about Ben's move to deny all three of you girls that final rose? Did you find it a little arrogant or maybe even rude or did you see it as Ben was just being decisive and knew what he wanted?
Shawntel Newton: That's a good question. When I was standing up there and it was just the three of us left and one rose, I at that moment, kind of felt like, "You know, I'm going home. I don't think he wants to keep me here," because of all the tension that had been going on and with [Courtney Robertson] basically telling him, "If you keep Shawntel, I'm going home."
And so, I think he was really confused but I think that he didn't -- I think as far as [Erica Uhlig] and [Jaclyn Swartz], I don't think that that was really going anywhere. With me, I know that there had been a connection before, but he sent me home because he was afraid of the other girls and he didn't want to hurt their feelings, which was really unfortunate for him.
I think there was something -- there could have been something great. He even said that on camera. He said, "Shawntel is someone that I could see myself with," and his decision to send me home, I think, wasn't really so much his as it was him thinking about the other girls and what it would do to the group of girls.
Reality TV World: Being on TV has obviously been a huge benefit for Ben's wine business. So do you think that played any role in his decision to not give you a rose? Do you think he's almost putting maintaining a positive public image above his search for love?
Shawntel Newton: I don't know about that. I think he was honestly more -- I think Ben was scared of the other girls. I think, especially Courtney, I really think that he's head over heels for Courtney and she gave him an ultimatum and sent me home because he didn't want to lose, not only her, but some of the other girls that he had there.
I never really thought about anything towards his winery or any of that to make himself look good. I think, if anything, a lot of people were thrown off that he didn't keep me because of the way that -- not only by the way that he was so surprised to see me, but I think it was one of the girls who said, "They look like they had chemistry," just by talking for a few minutes.
So, I don't think it really had anything to do with him trying to prove to anybody, aside to proving to the girls (laughs) that, "I don't want to hurt your guys' feelings." But it's not about them. It's about him -- him trying to find love, so that surprised me.
Reality TV World: Ben basically said he didn't give you a rose because he didn't want to jeopardize the relationships he had formed with the other women and thought he'd lose his credibility if he kept you around over another bachelorette. What's your response to that? How do you think the dynamic in the house amongst Ben and all his bachelorettes would have really changed if Ben gave you a rose?
Shawntel Newton: I think that they would have gotten over it because they need to understand -- and I think they were having a hard time understanding -- this is about him. It's not about necessarily them as a group. It's all going to come down to one person anyway, and I was just completely surprised that he focused more on his group of girls.
Why are you focusing on the whole group? You're going to be going down to one anyway, and so that just surprised me that he was focusing more on all the girls as a whole and not individually. I don't know. I just was -- I think that it would have changed maybe a little bit -- him keeping me, they would have been upset about it.
And if they were going to continue to be upset about it, well then Ben should see that it's just someone that he shouldn't be with anyway, because it's insecure and it's focusing on things they shouldn't be.
Reality TV World: Your conversation at the cocktail party with Ben before the Rose Ceremony seemed a bit short. Do you think there was anything else you could have done or said to convince Ben to keep you around? Do you wish you had been even more assertive or stolen more time from some of the other girls?
Shawntel Newton: Well, when I walked in, I had to interrupt the conversation he was having with Elyse and I knew -- just at cocktails parties, since I've done this before -- you don't get a lot of time because there's still so many girls that want to talk to him and they'll interrupt you. So, I kind of knew the drill.
When I talked to him, I wasn't so much at a loss for words, but I kind of felt like I didn't need to say a whole lot because we've talked before and all I basically said to him was, "Here I am. I want to get a chance to get to know you more and I'm willing to, if you'll have me, stay at the Rose Ceremony. And if you give me a rose, I'm excited to hopefully get a date and get to know you. And if you don't feel anything, then send me home."
I don't really think that I regret saying what I did and I don't feel like I should have said anything more. I think just me being there and saying, "Here I am. Keep me, because I think you and I both know that there has been something between us," and I thought that that should have been enough.
I don't think there could've been anything else that I could have said that would've made him keep me, because he wasn't thinking really about me and him. He was thinking about his women as a whole and as a group.
Reality TV World: Did you ever try to tell Ben how you felt about him and that you'd maybe like to pursue a relationship with him before he signed on to beThe Bachelor? Do you think he really knew how you felt about him?
Shawntel Newton: When we had talked before, I definitely made it pretty clear like, "Okay, let's get together. I want to meet you in person. I already feel like just from having a conversation with you..." and he was feeling the same way too. But since the show was going on, he couldn't really be seen in public with anybody.
And so, I made it very clear like, "I'd like to get to know you more and I would like to meet you in person," and it just never happened through all the chaos of him being on Ashley's season to pretty much going right into being the next Bachelor.
Reality TV World: Were you really apprehensive to go on The Bachelor again because of how your season with Brad had turned out?
Shawntel Newton: It's funny because when I was on my first season with Brad, none of us girls knew who we were about to meet and all that. I had no idea who Brad was anyway and getting to know him and bringing him to the funeral home, I don't regret any of that.
Brad was a great guy, but then watching Ashley's season and seeing all these other guys, especially Ben, I was like, "Now he would be someone I would actually want to sign, not only myself up for, but to go see even if it's on national television" -- like what I did. But I didn't really think about my time with Brad.
That was a year ago, and I thought, "Okay, I had that and that was great, but here's someone now that I actually do want to go on and get to know more." And that's why I made the decision to do it.
I would have never have done that if it was someone else. I didn't even want to do it in the first place just because it's an exhausting process, but it was Ben and I thought, "Well, I want to see if there's something more."
Also during the call, Shawntel told reporters whether she'd want to compete on a reality dating show again such as The Bachelorette, why she was led to believe Ben felt he had a connection with her, whether she is currently single or dating, what her reaction was to the other girls and who stood out to her for being especially cruel, and whether she felt betrayed by Ben when she learned he wanted to go on the show.
You said you had spoken with Ben a few times before he went on The Bachelor. Could you talk about those conversations and how in depth they were?
Shawntel Newton: Yes, when he was on [Ashley Hebert's] season, I made it really clear and apparent that I had a crush on him on Twitter. I would send posts out saying, "Oh my gosh. I want to meet this guy. I really like him." And he sent me a message on Twitter, and so we both were kind of privately messaging each other back and forth.
We exchanged numbers and I was a little embarrassed. I was like, "Oh my gosh, I didn't know you had a Twitter. You're not supposed to be reading this." So we just had some good conversations getting to know each other a little bit and since he lives in San Francisco, I was in Chico, and we were like, "Oh, we should meet up some time and get to know each other even more."
It just never really happened, but we continued texting and talking and then once it kind of got towards the end, I didn't hear from him as much and I learned that he was becoming the next the Bachelor, which made sense as to why (laughs) we weren't talking as much.
Do you think going back on The Bachelor helped or hindered your chances of becoming the next Bachelorette?
Shawntel Newton: Oh goodness! I haven't even thought aboutThe Bachelorette. I honestly just wanted to -- I really didn't want to go back on. It's just that I wanted to meet Ben and it was just kind of like, "Well, this is the only chance I have. Unfortunately, it's going to be back on national television, but it's worth trying."
So, I don't really know if it's ruined my chances. I haven't even really thought about that stuff. I was just more focused on, "Well, I need to meet Ben," and unfortunately, it didn't work out. But it's okay.
Were you surprised by the way the bachelorettes reacted to you once you arrived at the cocktail party and can you talk about what the tension in the room was like that night?
Shawntel Newton: Oh my gosh, I was beyond surprised. I expected going into that cocktail party to have some girls -- or probably all the girls -- upset with me or a little confused. I would be the same way. I would be sitting there thinking, "Oh gosh, this sucks. Here comes another girl." It just adds more tension.
But I did not expect to get the reaction that I did. It was really, really uncomfortable to sit there and have 15 really pretty girls pick on me. I really felt like the kid on the playground that everyone picks on and it was literally like out of the movie "Mean Girls." I was just not expecting that.
To my face, I had some girls say some really harsh things and watching on Monday, hearing girls even comment on my body image saying that I'm uglier in person or that I'm a bitch, it was like, "Whoa."
There is nothing that could have prepared me for that at all and it was not easy to watch on Monday. The tension was so intense. I was just not expecting that. I really was hurt by all those comments that were made. There was not really one thing that was said that was nice.
When you had your conversations with Ben before he appeared on The Bachelor, did he do or say anything to lead you to believe he'd respond differently to you at the cocktail party and end up giving you a rose?
Shawntel Newton: No, our conversations were really good. There was a connection there and I know that he felt the same way. Unfortunately, with me going in on the third cocktail party, he kind of played by the rules and he felt that, I believe, that it was just very unfair to the other girls -- which to defend him, yes it is unfair -- but I'm sorry, this whole situation is unfair.
You're trying to compete for a guy and what's one more girl? I mean, also, I said in my closing interview on the show, I said, "You need to set that aside. You need to set being fair and everything -- you have to throw all that out the window." This is someone that you're potentially going to marry, and I don't really think "fair" comes into play.
And yeah, I went in there thinking, "Yeah. I'm going to get a rose," because I knew that he felt something for me too. Unfortunately, I went in there on the third cocktail party, but it was the time I could go and I don't regret doing it, but I was so surprised. When he said goodbye to me and he said, "It's just not fair," then I thought, "Well, you know, okay. Then you're doing me a favor now."
When Ben told you keeping you around just wouldn't be fair, how did you really feel in that moment?
Shawntel Newton: When he was saying goodbye to me, at that moment, when I was standing up there at the Rose Ceremony and there was one rose left and there was Jaclyn, Erica and myself, I was like, "I'm going home." I could just see it in his face. I could tell that he was uncomfortable when Courtney went up to him.
She was up there for awhile, and I knew she basically gave him an ultimatum saying -- I think she called me "what's her butt?" -- which was not easy to hear, but she was saying like basically if you keep Shawntel, I'm out. I think a lot of the girls felt that way and so standing up there, I was like, "You know what? This is not -- I'm going home."
And when he escorted me out, that was all he really had to say. Besides that I hope there's no hard feelings, it was that it's just not fair. I just said -- all I could say to him was, "Okay good luck," because I was just so emotionally drained from all the girls and I had two minutes with him and it was like, "Oh my gosh. This is crazy."
I had no words, but in the end, I just thought, "You know what? Ben did me a favor because if I would have stayed, oh my gosh, it would have been even more intense. But also, I don't know, I think he already had some kind of connections with some of the other girls and he didn't want to ruin that.
Are you currently single and still looking for love or dating?
Shawntel Newton: I'm dating. Chico's a small town, but this was a couple months ago, and I didn't go on the show being like, "Oh my gosh, I am in love with Ben" or anything. So it wasn't so hard to get over it. The hardest part for me was the emotional side with the girls and coming home and being like, "Wow." I just felt like a little kid being picked on.
So that took some time to just kind of get over, but I'm actually going back to school this coming semester to get into the Masters program and I'm at the funeral home and I love it there and I love my little community.
So, things are really good and it was just another risk that I was willing to take and I don't regret doing it at all. Hopefully it shows people too to take risks with love and I tried, and unfortunately, it didn't work out and I got picked on.
Was it a possibility for you to start The Bachelor process from the beginning with the other bachelorettes? Did you call too late for that to happen?
Shawntel Newton: I think Ben even said something like that -- "If Shawntel was there from the beginning, it would have been different." Unfortunately, it was too late I guess for me to do that. Not only did I have reservations here in Chico, but as time went on, I knew that they were already starting to get going with their journey and all that.
I was kind of like, "Oh well, shoot. It's probably going. I'm not going to do it." But then it just kind of weighed on me and I was like, "Oh my gosh, I want to -- Let me see if it is too late." And they had been filming for many days, so I had talked to [host Chris Harrison] and he was like, "We're coming up on our third Rose Ceremony."
And I thought, "Well, is there any chance that I can kind of risk doing this for Ben?" So, he helped me in making it happen and it was unfortunate that it had to be the third Rose Ceremony and cocktail party, because I knew there'd be even more tension.
There probably would have been less tension if I came out the first time or the first night with the other girls, but regardless, they still would have been upset that I was there. So, it really didn't matter when I came, I don't think.
And I think -- knowing that I went into the third cocktail party, I thought, "I don't think that anyone's already in love with him yet," so I didn't feel like I was stepping on too many toes. But I've been in that situation before. It's uncomfortable. You're vulnerable.
But I was kind of hoping that Ben would, when I got there, would focus on he and I and what I kind of thought we had. But I think he was focused more on the other girls and their feelings and he kind of put his own aside and I was surprised by that, because that is the whole point of the show.
It's to find someone that you can spend the rest of your life with and if you have -- I was just surprised that girls were that surprised that I showed up. I'm sorry, but throughout all these seasons, something happens. There's always surprises and you know, if I was there, I would have been upset.
But also, I would have been secure enough in what I have with him and not worry if five other girls showed up. You gotta focus on what you have and that's why I felt that the girls were so harsh to me. I think a lot of insecurities came out and I brought that out with them. I think when Ben watched on Monday, he was taken aback and he was surprised that the girls treated me so poorly.
Did any of the girls stand out to you as being more pleasant or a better fit for Ben than the others and did anyone stand out for the opposite reasons?
Shawntel Newton: Yes, well when I got there, I had about a couple minutes with Ben and obviously he was speechless and had really not a whole lot to say, which I expected because it was a complete surprise. I knew I was going to be walking into the lions den and I was very surprised by the way all the girls reacted to me.
There were a couple girls -- there was a girl [Jennifer Fritsch] who we haven't really seen a whole lot of. She was one girl that did not say anything rude to my face or that I saw behind my back to the camera. [Kacie Boguskie], she was very pleasant to sit next to. She even offered me, if I stayed, to share a room with her, (laughs) which was really nice.
[Lindzi Cox] too was pretty sweet to my face. But then when I watched on Monday, hearing Lindzi say, "Oh, she tried to strut her stuff," or whatever, "I would have done a better job," that kind of surprised me. And then Kacie B., I heard say, "All this is happening because of Shawntel." And I thought, "Wow."
I don't really think I can make anyone pass out, but okay. (Laughs) So, I mean honestly, I think Jennifer was by far the one that stuck out the most for just being a very pleasant person and a classy woman and Kacie and Lindzi too. They were sweet to me. I was very thrown off by [Elyse Myers]. She was one that was very kind of yelling, actually, a couple times at me.
I thought, "Whoa, you can lower your voice a little bit." Courtney and [Rachel Truehart] also were a couple girls that were just, I don't know, unpleasant (laughs) to be around. This girl Jaclyn too, she actually sat me down and told me -- She said, "Honestly, when you walked into the room, I said that I wanted to punch you in your face."
And I was like, "Wow. Oh my gosh, okay." She apologized to me for that, but still. I really did not -- I was there for a couple hours having to defend myself and a girl can only take so much. I was ready to walk out. There was a time when Chris Harrison walked in, he said, "It's time for the Rose Ceremony."
Nobody knows this, because there was no camera and I was by myself, but I snuck off to the bathroom and I cried for a good couple of minutes before the Rose Ceremony -- not because of Ben, not because of any of that. It was just because of the women. I shouldn't even say women -- the girls.
They were so harsh to me, and defending myself for two-and-a-half hours was exhausting. And so I cried for a little bit, gained my composure and then went back out into the Rose Ceremony.
What are your general thoughts on Courtney? What do you think about her?
Shawntel Newton: Courtney, as I'm watching -- I was watching the first two episodes before I made my appearance -- Ben makes it very, very clear to me and to, I think, a lot of people that he's head over heels for her. And so, it really surprised me when she went up there and told him that basically, "This was not easy that Shawntel came in here," and basically telling him that if I stay, she's out.
I think that was the biggest influence that Ben had -- was from Courtney -- and a huge reason why I went home was because of her. I think he's very much -- he's been falling in love with her.
I think (laughs) he ends up choosing her in the end -- is how I feel, which is very surprising because of the way she acted with me. She wasn't the classiest, and when I got sent home, she laughed and said something like, "Sayonara." And I just thought, "Wow."
I think Ben was completely surprised by the way -- even Courtney -- reacted when I showed up. So, I do think that Ben is making it very clear that he's completely into Courtney. Out of all the girls, I think he's really into her more.
Could you elaborate on why you think Ben had feelings for you?
Shawntel Newton: When he and I talked, we both reached out to each other on Twitter and he would call me and I would call him, and we would have really good conversations. I have family in Sonoma and he has family in Sonoma. San Francisco is really close to Chico, and so we were like, "Wow, we have a lot of things in common."
I enjoyed -- you know when you talk to someone, you can kind of tell that there's a connection there or not and if you want to talk to him again or not, and I know I definitely did and I know he did or else he wouldn't have continued to have conversations with me.
And so, it wasn't like, "Oh my gosh, I'm in love with this guy," but it was like, "I really feel like there could be something." I think Ben's the kind of guy that a lot of girls can see themselves with, because he's very laid back and is comfortable with himself, and I like that. I find that very attractive in someone.
So it was kind of like, "Here we go. Why not. Let's see," and I was pretty confident walking in there thinking that, "He's going to keep me," because I knew how he felt.
But I was just surprised that he -- I think he just put his feelings aside and was just focusing on how he's going to hurt the other girls, which in a way, I can understand. But also, the whole point is about him. If he decided to keep me, the other girls should understand that and respect that and back off.
Since you had developed somewhat of a relationship with Ben before he went on The Bachelor, were you blindsided when you learned of the news that he was going to be on the show?
Shawntel Newton: I had an idea that he was going to be asked since I knew that he was Top 2. In fact, he and I kind of talked about it. He wouldn't talk to me a whole lot about it, but I'd say things like, "Oh my gosh, we need to meet before you make your decision and this happens," and I don't blame for wanting to be The Bachelor.
You know that you're going to have all these different options and so, I think with him and I, it was just really bad timing unfortunately. So when I didn't hear from him a whole lot, I kind of knew, "Okay, he's made his decision to be the Bachelor," and so I backed off. I was like, "Wow, I'm not going to go back on this show and do it that way."
And then as the days went on, I kind of thought, "Well shoot. He's going to be engaged in a couple months. I kind of want to at least meet him in person and see if what I felt over the phone and just in that sort of relationship, I want to explore it a little bit more." So, I called Chris and said, "Is there any way that we can make arrangements for me to stop by?"
Did you feel betrayed when he left or did you feel hurt?
Shawntel Newton: No, it did. I mean, I wasn't in love with him or anything like that. So that made it a little easier to not be like, "Oh my gosh, my heart is completely broken because I was in love with this guy."
It was more like, I just was thrown back by him -- that all he had to say to me was just, "It's not fair" with really no further explanation aside from him telling me that the girls that he had, he didn't want to hurt their feelings.
So that was kind of a little hurtful because I thought, "My gosh. You need to throw fairness out the window right now. This is someone that you're maybe going to be with for the rest of your life whether it's me or any other girl."
So it really did surprise me that he was kind of focused on his group of girls and threw me out so quickly and not -- I really did not think I was going home. I really thought that he would keep me and at least take me out on a date or something and just see if there was something.
I would have liked that a whole lot better. Even for me, we could have gone on a date and I could have been like, "Okay, well, we had good conversations, but obviously there's nothing really further." And I could have gone home that way and I would have felt better about that than standing and talking to him for two minutes and getting picked on and then getting sent home.
So just to clarify, you don't think he lied to you or tried to hide anything from you by leaving for The Bachelor?
Do you think you would confront the bachelorettes about how they bullied you at the Women Tell All reunion special?
Shawntel Newton: You know, at the Women Tell All, it's something where I'm hoping to get apologies, to be honest from some of them, because I even said to two of the girls, I said -- I put myself in their shoes -- I said, "I understand that I'm here and I'm not going to make best friends. I understand that, but don't be rude. You don't need to be that rude to somebody."
And watching someone say that you're ugly and that you have big thighs and talking about someone's body image, calling them a b-tch, saying you're trash -- dumpster trash -- I thought that was so unladylike. And I'm hoping that at the Women Tell All, that I get apologies from that. They were just so rude and I would probably honestly walk out if I sit there and just get picked on again.
I'm not going to deal with that. A girl can only take so much, and I sat there for two-and-a-half hours defending myself and getting picked on, and I won't do that. That's not going to happen again.
Reports have surfaced that Emily Maynard is going to be the next Bachelorette. Since you got to know her in person during Brad Womack's season, do you think she's a good choice for the position? There has also been rumors that Bentley Williams has interest in pursuing her. What are your thoughts about that?
Shawntel Newton: I think if Bentley came back, that would be even more drama than me coming back for Ben. I think if Emily does decide to do this or that's what ends up happening, I think -- I mean Emily's a great person. A lot of people fell in love with her and her daughter.
I think it would be hard just because of her daughter if they did traveling and everything, because I know she struggled with that while we were on Brad's season together with being away from her daughter for so long. So in ways, yes. I think she'd be great, because not only do a lot of viewers want to see her find love and really like her, she's a very good person.
However, I think it'd be really hard for her to send people home because she's so nice, and having to let people go and if Bentley came back and her handling certain situations, I think it would be really hard for her just because she's so sweet. But I would definitely watch and she's a great person. So, I think if she decides to do it, then good luck to her!
If Ben ends up alone after his The Bachelor journey, would you still be interested in dating him?
Shawntel Newton: No, I wouldn't be interested. I mean, I think he's a good person. As far as a friendship, possibly. I would hope to be his friend, but no. After just that whole situation, I know that people can crack under pressure. I had mentioned that on camera saying that Ben did crack under pressure.
And that to me, that's upsetting -- that either he could make it to where I'm like, "Oh my gosh. This is the guy that I want to be with for the rest of my life because he's keeping me and he did feel something," or the way that it unfortunately went, he sent me home.
And to me, it's like, "You know what? I want a man that's going to set those fears aside and keep me among all these other women too." And so, no. I wouldn't be, just because in that situation, him sending me home was like, "Okay, well, if he's not going to do it there, I'm not going to come back to it." So, no. I wouldn't.
Were you hoping to get to the cocktail party before it started so you could speak to him privately or did you plan on arriving during the cocktail party and confront him with the other girls present?
Shawntel Newton: Well, Chris told me that I'd be arriving around the time that the cocktail party was going. So, I was prepared to get dress and to walk into the lions den (laughs) and to probably have to walk by a bunch of girls. Even hearing some people's comments saying, "Shawntel, you should have said 'hi' to the girls. You should have acknowledged them."
Well, sorry. No. I focused strictly on Ben and wanting to see him immediately. I know I had to interrupt his conversation, but that was my whole focus. My focus was not on the other girls. It was not to get to know them. It was to show Ben who I am and I've got some guts to be walking into this lion's den. And apparently, it wasn't enough for him, so it just didn't work out.
Ben had also caught the attention of Jennifer Love Hewitt and other television personalities before going on The Bachelor. What do you think makes him so attractive to girls?
Shawntel Newton: I think a lot of it was just that he's laid back and that's how I think every girl wants his guy -- just very chill and relaxed. He's very confident and I think that being a winemaker and all that makes him even more attractive. I also like the long, dark hair (laughs). I just found him great and obviously a lot of girls did.
In fact, when I walked into the cocktail party, I had a couple girls say to me, "Oh my gosh, when you walked in, we were like, 'Please don't tell me that's Jennifer Love Hewitt walking in right now. That would mess it all up for everybody!'" But yeah, apparently, I don't know whether they dated or went on a date or what.
I've heard mixed things about that, but I think a lot of people fell in love with him. He just is a guy that a lot of girls can be with because he's just so relaxed and confident and a lot of girls find that very attractive, like me.