'The Bachelor's reported new star Clayton Echard: Why producers allegedly picked him for Season 26
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/22/2021
The Bachelor producers' reported decision to cast Clayton Echard as the Season 26 Bachelor was a surprising one, but their reasons have been revealed.
Clayton, a 28-year-old orthopedic sales representative and former college football player, will be shown competing for Michelle Young's heart on The Bachelorette's upcoming eighteenth season, which premieres Tuesday, October 19 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.
But before fans are even introduced to Clayton on television, ABC reportedly cast him as The Bachelor star for 2022, which suggests either Clayton got his heart crushed by Michelle on the show or his star-quality and/or storyline made him a natural fit to become the franchise's new leading man.
"Clayton stood out right off the bat," a source toldUs Weekly of the Eureka, MO, native.
"Producers ended up going with him because they believed he was the best fit for the role.
ABC reportedly loves the fact Clayton is a fresh face whom America still has to get to know.
"[Producers] wanted to switch things up and go with someone new and someone who hasn't been in the spotlight yet," the source explained.
"The mystery makes it more exciting for the prospective contestants."
According to other insiders, producers fell in love with Clayton's "story" during Michelle's The Bachelorette season and so he rose to the top of their potential-next Bachelor list, Variety recently reported.
Clayton all but confirmed he'll be The Bachelor's Season 26 star when he spoke to a crowd of people while being filmed in Eureka last week.
Clayton told fans he's "excited" about the opportunity to look for his "person" but also "very nervous" at the same time, according to St. Louis' Fox affiliate.
While ABC and Warner Bros. have yet to officially confirm Clayton will follow in Matt James' footsteps, a banner hangs in Eureka that reads, "Go Find Love Clayton," and the town's mayor, Sean Flower, said on Facebook that ABC had purchased the giant sign.
"If it were to be him, truthfully, he was very personable," The Bachelorette co-host Tayshia Adams told Entertainment Tonight.
Tayshia and her fellow The Bachelorette co-host Kaitlyn Bristowe presumably got to know Clayton pretty well while filming the show's eighteenth season, although Michelle's official cast of bachelors hasn't even been announced yet.
"He was someone that really had fun with all of the dates," Tayshia added. "And so, I think if it is him, you're in for a little treat."
Before producers settled on Clayton, Hannah Brown's The Bachelorette runner-up Tyler Cameron and men currently appearing on Season 7 of Bachelor in Paradise were also reportedly up for consideration for the Bachelor.
The Bachelor's 26th season is expected to premiere in early January 2022.