Chris Harrison has revealed his biggest regret from his The Bachelor racial controversy in 2021 that resulted in him losing his hosting job of nearly two decades.

"If I had a regret, it would be that I didn't do THIS, that I didn't just come to you in the first place," Chris shared on the first episode of his "The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever with Chris Harrison" that was released on January 8.


He added, "This is what I should've done from Day 1. I should've just come to you unedited, unfiltered, and just talked and told you how sorry I am, how heartbroken I am."

While Matt James' season of The Bachelor was airing in early 2021, Chris sparked major backlash when he conducted an Extra interview with the first Black The Bachelorette star, Rachel Lindsay, and defended Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's racially-ignorant and racially-insensitive actions in her recent past.

The controversy resulted in Chris announcing that he was leaving The Bachelor franchise for good in June 2021, and he hasn't spoken out about the life-changing events and learning experience until now.

"The reason I'm doing this is you. I've missed you guys, I've heard you... Thank you for your words; it truly has kept me going... Our relationship was important to me. I cultivated and worked on that relationship with the viewers, you, from Day 1 when I was hosting The Bachelor and The Bachelorette," Chris said.

"I tried to earn your trust, I tried to earn your love, and I tried to give you everything I had honestly... I tried to be really honest with everybody on the show -- and you. And so you're the reason I wanted to sit down and have this conversation."

Chris determined that he must give himself "some grace," even though he's been plagued with this big regret.

"Because when I went through this ordeal after the interview and everything subsequently kind of melted down, there was no template for this. There was no playbook. The playbook had been thrown out the window," Chris noted.

"The toughest thing for me was where to turn and what to do... The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative, whether it had to do with race or anything."


Chris acknowledged his February 2021 Extra interview was "messy" and "just not me," and he admitted he didn't think it would affect his career or standing in the community at the time.
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During the Extra interview, Chris had adopted a dismissive attitude towards photos of Rachael that resurfaced and were circulating online from an antebellum-plantation themed "Old South" fraternity party at Georgia College & State University in 2018.

Chris had called for "grace" and "compassion" for Rachael and also criticized the "woke police" and the "unbelievably alarming" response of anger and frustration to the young woman's actions.

Chris' strong defense of Rachael, who tearfully apologized for the racially-offensive photos, enraged many Bachelor Nation fans.

"There were much more egregious things going on in the world and things that had happened, and so people didn't really think it was going to amount to much -- and that if I apologized, we would be able to move forward," Chris recalled.

Chris therefore announced in February 2021 he'd be "stepping aside" from his hosting duties with The Bachelor franchise "for a period of time" to educate himself on racism in society in a "profound" and "productive" manner.

Chris issued a total of three public apologies for his offense, two on Instagram and then one verbal apology during a March 2021 appearance on Good Morning America.

"My apology was warranted because I did mess up and make a mistake... I just wanted to wrap my arms around all of you -- and everyone who's been on the show -- and say, 'My god, if I've hurt you, I am so sorry. There is nothing in me, there is nothing in my soul, that would ever want to harm anybody or make you feel less than, not seen, belittled, or in any way marginalized. That's just not me. I always lead with love," Chris insisted.

On GMA at the time, Chris had said he hoped to come back to The Bachelor franchise, explaining, "This is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it. I plan to be back and I want to be back."


Rachel even accepted Chris' apology in March 2021, but other people weren't so lenient.

Katie Thurston refused to star on Season 17 of The Bachelorette in March 2021 if Chris was going to participate, and several sources told E! News in April of that year that "many" The Bachelor and The Bachelorette alums from seasons past were "apprehensive" about signing up for Bachelor in Paradise 7 or even declined their invitations in the wake of Chris' racism controversy.

One insider told the website at the time, "A lot of people are removing themselves from the franchise."

The Bachelorette Season 16 bachelor, Ivan Hall, for example, told E!'s Daily Pop, "If they have future shows and if they were to ask me to be on Bachelor in Paradise or something like that -- and I'm sure a lot of other contestants feel this way as well -- I wouldn't feel comfortable if Chris is there, to be quite frank."

Ivan added, "[I'm] not saying he can't make a recovery, can't learn from all of this, but, you know... it would just be too soon, really."

Chris explained that with "all the noise" happening in the aftermath of his Extra interview, he thought speaking from his heart, publicly, and explaining himself "would've just been more noise."

"It would've been like trying to have a conversation in the middle of a crowded stadium," Chris explained.

Had the longtime The Bachelor host released a candid public discussion about his mistakes in the first half of 2021 instead of being silent, Chris confessed, "I'm not sure it would've mattered. You wouldn't have heard it."

Chris thought there was "this insatiable appetite" and "this momentum" building at the time of his controversy.

"It didn't matter who you are, what you said -- you were going to be devoured, and they were hungry and they wanted more. And anybody who stuck their head up above water was going to be devoured by this wave," Chris told his listeners.

"They weren't going to hear anything that was going to stop them in their tracks and say, 'Oh, okay, I see.'"

Chris said "no good" was going to come from speaking, and he added, "And selfishly, I think I needed time. I needed time to figure out what I wanted to say and how I felt."

When looking back on the "infamous interview," as Chris put it, he recalled, "One point that I was trying to make -- and did not make eloquently -- was people need time to think. You need time to process."

Chris said he believes people "must have grace and patience" to allow others to think and process, "or else you're just getting this nonsensical, reactive emotion from people."

Chris said he chose to sit back and listen to everybody else speak as a result. He said he "wasn't counseled" to publicly express or discuss what he was feeling because it was just going to become "the next click bait headline."

Chris recalled, "When I got hit by this wave and I was being thrown around, the decision was made, 'Okay, apologize,' which I did, and then, 'Don't speak.' I tentatively agreed, like, 'Okay, this too shall pass. It's not a big deal.'"

"But this noise in this moment of time, didn't stop... And that's what none of us were prepared for," he continued.

"That's what I wasn't prepared for. Because all of a sudden, this moment and my name became synonymous with this political lighting-in-a-bottle moment."

ABC and Chris publicly announced in June 2021 that Chris' voluntary leave of absence from The Bachelor franchise would become a permanent one and he would not be returning as host for any future seasons.

Chris wrote in a June 8, 2021 statement on Instagram how he was "excited to start a new chapter" and "so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories."

Former The Bachelorette stars Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams stepped in as co-hosts of Katie and Michelle Young's back-to-back The Bachelorette seasons in 2021, and Wells Adams -- joined by a group of celebrity guest hosts, including singers and comedians -- helmed Bachelor in Paradise's seventh season that summer.

Jesse Palmer, a sports analyst who starred on The Bachelor's fifth season, replaced Chris in 2022, having hosted Clayton Echard's The Bachelor season followed by Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia's The Bachelorette season as well as Bachelor in Paradise 8 this past summer.

Jesse is also going to host Zach Shallcross' season of The Bachelor, which premieres Monday, January 23 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.

Multiple sources told E! News last year that Chris was "saddened" and "frustrated" about his The Bachelor departure, adding that the show was his "whole life" and he really wanted to come back.

Deadline reported in June 2021 that Chris, who began hosting The Bachelor franchise back in Season 1, which premiered in 2002, reached a mid-range eight-figure settlement with ABC to exit The Bachelor franchise for good.

But Variety subsequently reported Chris only received $9 million as his supposed big payout.


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About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.