Bachelor spoilers change! Who does 'The Bachelor' star Matt James pick as his winner and end up with? Does Matt pick Rachael Kirkconnell or Michelle Young? What is the new shocking post-finale spoiler? (SPOILERS)
[Bachelor Spoilers Warning: This report features spoilers that reveal who Matt James ended up picking as his winner, whether Matt and his winning bachelorette got engaged, and The Bachelor couple's current status.]
The Bachelor's finale is set to air Monday, March 15 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC, and the After the Final Rose special will be hosted by sports analyst and former NFL player Emmanuel Acho.
"Emmanuel hosts an emotional and impactful evening featuring touching reunions, heart-wrenching confrontations and powerful one-on-one talks with the final women as well as the Bachelor himself, Matt James," according to ABC.
And "a shocking announcement that will have Bachelor Nation talking" will be made on After the Final Rose.
But first, Matt will enter the finale broadcast with his Final 2 bachelorettes: Michelle Young, a 27-year-old teacher from Edina, MN, and Rachael Kirkconnell, a 24-year-old graphic designer from Cumming, GA.
Matt narrowed down his group of bachelorettes to only two women after making the tough decision to eliminate Bri Springs, a 24-year-old communications manager from Owatonna, MN, in third place following Matt's overnight Fantasy Suite dates.
"It's really disappointing and sad that it wasn't me," Bri lamented following her ouster.
"It's hard because what I thought we had was special, but it couldn't have been all for nothing."
But both Rachael and Michelle appear to be madly in love with Matt, and so it seems unlikely Matt will leave the process brokenhearted or dumped.
"I feel it with every ounce of my being that he is who I'm supposed to be with. It's scary because I still have that chance of losing him, but I know I want it more than anything I've ever wanted," Rachael told the cameras.
And Michelle said she was convinced Matt is her "person."
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"I know what I feel in my heart for you, and it feels completely right and it feels crazy," Michelle told Matt, adding, "You're the person I want to spend the rest of my life with."
Rachael, however, had an extremely tough time thinking about Matt being intimate with other women. She broke down on more than one occasion and needed convincing from The Bachelor star that his feelings matched hers.
Rachael let her guard down for Matt like never before.
"I see him as my husband and I want to be his wife, and I feel like there's just a really special intimacy that you share with one another that you don't share with anyone else," Rachael said.
Rachael and Michelle said at the time of their overnight dates that they would definitely accept a marriage proposal from Matt if he popped the question.
And Matt felt ready for an engagement after receiving closure from his father, Manny James, with whom he had an estranged relationship.
In the finale episode, Rachael and Michelle anticipate final one-on-one dates with Matt and meeting his family, including his mother Patty James.
"After all this, Matt's mind seems made up, but when a shocking last-minute development threatens to alter the course of his entire journey, will he give in to his fears or let his heart lead the way?" ABC teased in a press release for the Season 25 finale.
And based on a preview that aired following the Fantasy Suites episode, things go awry and Matt is taken back to "a very dark place" after talking to his mother about her painful past and failed marriage.
"I'm not [okay]," Matt cries to Chris Harrison. "To be honest with you, I don't know [if I can do this anymore]."
Following footage of both Michelle and Rachael crying, Matt tell the cameras, "Everything I've been working towards is starting to crumble. I don't know what I'm going to do."
According to Reality Steve spoiler blogger Steve Carbone, both Michelle and Rachael got to meet Matt's mother, but neither Final 2 bachelorette's final date with The Bachelor star went according to plan.
Michelle's date with Matt reportedly occurred first -- and while the daytime portion went as planned, Matt decided to end his relationship with Michelle during the evening portion of the date.
"[Matt] says he loves Michelle but is not in love with her," Carbone wrote in his March 4 blog. "She suspects it's because of Rachael and he confirms."
Carbone's new March 4 blog post elaborated on an earlier January post in which the blogger had reported he'd learned Matt did not follow The Bachelor's usual format and had dumped Michelle before the Final Rose Ceremony.
"Matt actually lets Michelle go before the final rose ceremony," he'd written in a January 26 post.
However, even though Michelle had already been sent home, Matt's date with Rachael also reportedly didn't proceed as planned either!
"The next day is supposed to be Rachael's final date, and it gets canceled. The breakup with Michelle, the meeting with his dad all catches up to him, and I assume that's why he cancels his final date with Rachael," Carbone wrote in his March 4 post.
But after cancelling their Final 2 date, Matt reportedly still asked Rachael to meet with him the next day, according to Carbone's new March 4 spoilers posting.
"The following day, Rachael gets a letter under her door from Matt apologizing for canceling their final date the day before," Carbone reported. "The letter says to meet him by the lake where they had their overnight date."
While she was upset at Matt, Rachael reportedly still agreed to meet with Matt.
Rachael then reportedly traveled to at the lakeside site, which she discovered had been arranged to resemble the show's traditional final Rose Ceremony set.
Matt then reportedly reciprocated Rachael's feelings but said he "can't" propose marriage to her and they do not get engaged. Instead, Matt simply gave Rachael his final rose and they agreed to continue their relationship in the real world.
"Matt tells her that he can't propose to her... BUT... that he loves her and he can't picture his life without her," Carbone wrote in his new spoilers blog.
"She accepts the final rose and they leave as a couple. No engagement and no promise ring either. Just an agreement to continue dating essentially."
Carbone does not explain why Matt feels he "can't" propose to Rachael.
Rachael's status as Matt's winner was first reported in January
Carbone had originally reported he believed Rachael had likely received Matt's final rose of the season in a January 4 blog post the day The Bachelor season premiered on ABC.
"I was told, 'Michelle and Rachael were final 2, and Rachael wins,'" Carbone wrote at the time.
The spoiler blogger, however, wasn't totally confident in the knowledge he had about the winner.
"If you believe everything coming out of the small town of Cumming, GA, then it's Rachael Kirkconnell [who won]," Carbone explained.
"Because for the last month, all I keep being told out of Cumming is that Rachael won, and all her friends and family know and they're telling everyone."
"Maybe Rachael did win. All I'm saying is that if she did, she, her family, and her friends are doing an awful job of keeping it secret."
Carbone therefore questioned if Rachael's alleged victory was just a situation in which someone started a false rumor and it then spread like wildfire.
"I'm not 100 percent sold on it yet, but, I'm just telling you that's the one I've heard most," Carbone wrote.
However, in a subsequent January 21 blog Carbone announced he had now gotten full confirmation that Rachael had in fact received Matt's final rose.
"I [just] got the confirmation I needed about this seasons spoiler: Matt chose Rachael and is still with her," he wrote.
"I know it's been out there, but I don't base my spoilers on what anyone else reports. Never have, and never will. Been hearing it was her for a while but never felt fully secure saying with certainty he chose her."
Some of the artists or groups represented on Rachael's playlist included The Mary Onettes, The Chainsmokers, The Districts, Flume featuring Beck, The Weeknd, Daft Punk and Joji.
Matt was subsequently asked about his Spotify activity in an interview with Entertainment Tonight reporter Lauren Zima, who is the girlfriend of The Bachelor host Chris Harrison.
However, Matt tried to brush off the matter and suggested that -- in what would be a dramatic departure from the usual behavior of prior The Bachelor leads -- he has remained in contact with several of his bachelorettes since his season finished filming in November.
"There's a lot of music that I've taken from a bunch of women on the show. I've listened to [Kit Keenan]'s playlist, I've listened to [Michelle Young]'s playlist," Matt responded.
"I think that people are very eager to find any tea," Matt acknowledged, "and you know, lucky for me, I had a very good group of women and I've taken a lot of what I've learned from them and applied it to my life."
Matt even pointed out the shirt he was wearing for his video interview was inspired by Kit's fashion given she's the daughter of fashion designer Cynthia Rowley.
"A lot of the things I'm doing going forward were taken from my time with these women," Matt concluded.
Matt and Rachael's non-engagement was first reported in February
While Carbone had stated Matt and Rachael were still together as a couple in his January 21 blog post, he had clarified he wasn't sure they got engaged at The Bachelor season's final Rose Ceremony or if the couple may have gotten engaged afterwards.
"I do not know if they're engaged or not," he wrote.
However on February 2, Carbone reported he had now confirmed Matt and Rachael did not get engaged at The Bachelor season's final Rose Ceremony.
"Matt did not propose to Rachael. They are still together today though," he wrote in a blog post.
"Everyone will basically say this relationship has zero chance because it doesn't have that 'label' of engagement, even though that's never mattered in the past since so many don't make it any way," he added.
"But I can already tell you him not proposing will immediately have people giving the hot take that these two won't make it. I mean, I don't think they will either, but not because he didn't propose."
"I don't think they'll make it because I don't think for a second Matt is ready for a serious relationship, and never was."
Matt and Rachael were still together for weeks after her racism scandal initially started
In mid-February, Rachael finally broke her silence and released a lengthy apology for prior offensive and racist behavior that came to light and surfaced online after The Bachelor premiered on ABC in January.
Given the widespread media coverage Rachael's racism scandal has attracted, some viewers had wondered if Matt and Rachael's status may have changed after Carbone's February 2 blog post in which he stated Matt and Rachael were still together.
However the couple's relationship status had not changed a couple of weeks after the blog post, according to Carbone.
"They are still together," he reiterated in another February 17 blog posting.
"Matt and Rachael are still together and will be come [After the Final Rose]. I don't see that changing. After that? Anybody's guess.," he added later in the blog post.
"Just think of how hard it is to make it as a couple in this franchise when everything is great and America loves you. Matt and Rachael don't have much support publicly, they're living through the biggest scandal this show has ever seen, and they can't address it publicly for another month. Gonna be real tough for these two to make it in the long run.
However, Matt and Rachael broke up recently!
"Breaking news last night... We all know Matt picks Rachael in the end, but after last night, well, they are no more," Carbone wrote in a February 23 blog post.
After the Huffington Post reported Matt and Rachael's breakup on February 22, Carbone said he was able to confirm the news.
"Matt and Rachael broke up within the last week. I don't have an exact day, and I don't have any details as to why, but judging by Matt's [Instagram] post yesterday, I get the sense that the guy was put in a no-win situation," Carbone explained.
"So basically no matter what he did, he was going to take some heat. If he sticks this out and shows up with Rachael on the ATFR as a couple, it'll be 'how is [he] not affected by what she did?' Now they've broken it off, it'll be 'why couldn't he stand by her?'"
Carbone also reported The Bachelor: After the Final Rose will not air as a live event this March and will be instead be filmed more than a week in advance.
The special's scheduling marks a departure from The Bachelor's other recent seasons -- although given The Bachelorette's recent fall season didn't feature anyAfter the Final Rose special, it's unclear how big a role Rachael's racism scandal may have played in the decision versus other factors like the ongoing pandemic.
Chris Harrison will also not be hosting the special as he recently decided to "step aside" from the franchise for "a period of time" after he sparked an outrage by defending the allegations against Rachael prior to her public apology.
Carbone speculates anything could happen on After the Final Rose and he is unable to provide specific details at this time.
"Because the breakup is so new, when these two see each other again, does some reconciliation happen? Is there any way they make it through this?" Carbone questioned.
"Does Matt possibly have the balls to ask Bri or Michelle for a second chance? Does he leave solo?... Will there even be an audience? I'm not sure. But this sure is gonna be messy. I can't remember the last couple that couldn't even make it to their ATFR taping."
Carbone had also insisted in his February 23 blog that Matt gave Rachael a promise ring at the final Rose Ceremony -- a fact he reported was actually incorrect in his subsequent March 4 blog.
"A promise to stay together 3 months? Whatever the case, that's what we're getting at the end of this season," Carbone wrote on February 23.
"A lot obviously came about post filming, all stuff Matt had no clue about while he was falling for Rachael and ultimately choosing her. It's really going to be interesting seeing what Matt says is the reason for the breakup with Rachael."
The spoiler blogger guessed that Matt probably broke it off with Rachael due to all the negative press surrounding the bachelorette.
"There just doesn't seem to be any other reason why a week before taping the ATFR. They've been together this whole time," Carbone reasoned.
"Accusations have been out there since the night of the premiere 2 months ago. Like, WTF? Why now?... There's a lot of questions out there that definitely need to be answered."