After failing to find lasting love with Michelle on The Bachelorette 18, Clayton will be handing out the roses when The Bachelor returns on Monday, January 3 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.
The morning after ABC's The Bachelor announcement, Clayton appeared on Good Morning America to discuss his experience as the franchise's leading man.
"I did find love," Clayton confirmed on Wednesday.
"And I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey, but I'm so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than what I had thought."
The 28-year-old medical sales representative and former pro football player from Columbia, MO, added, "And I'm so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well."
Clayton was eliminated by Michelle before hometown dates, when The Bachelorette star was selecting her Final 4 bachelors.
Following his ouster, Clayton cried about how he wants a wife, kids and a family "more than anything" and he'd do whatever it takes to make that dream come true.
Clayton, seemingly chosen as The Bachelor star for his genuine desire to find The One, said on GMA, "I still get chills hearing [I'm the new Bachelor]. It doesn't feel real at times, but I was so incredibly honored and just humbled to have had the experience."
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In terms of what he's looking for in a woman, Clayton said he went intoThe Bachelor season with "a checklist of sorts."
"I was looking for somebody that was funny, intelligent, driven, [and] put forth effort. And so I figured, 'That's a good list and hopefully I'll find that,'" Clayton shared.
"What I found is very quickly the women blew my expectations out of the water. They brought all of that and so much more."
Clayton gushed, "And so the expectations continued to rise and I realized that, ultimately, I was going to find everything that I wanted and so much more... I learned a lot about myself and it has been quite the journey."
Clayton said of all the things he learned on his journey to find love, the most important life lesson he walked away with is to "become comfortable with being uncomfortable."
Clayton said it's crucial to "step out of one's comfort zone" and that he was "really challenged" as an individual while filming the show.
"There's just so much I learned about myself during the period of time that I was there," Clayton noted.
In a press release announcing Clayton's The Bachelor participation, ABC boasts about Clayton's "rugged good looks and Viking-level athleticism," adding, "He is a puppy-loving goofball with a heart of gold (and surprisingly good dance moves) who is ready to find the love of his life."
"I will say he was one of my favorite from Michelle's season because he was really emotionally available and secure in that," Kaitlyn said. "I think he would be really good as the Bachelor."
And Tayshia elaborated, "Clayton was super fun and playful. I feel like when we did see him on a date, he was always having a good time and he always had a smile on his face... He always seemed really sweet.
Former The Bachelor star and NFL player Jesse Palmer will serve as the host of Clayton's season following Chris Harrison's permanent departure from the franchise earlier this year.
While Clayton's The Bachelor season airs in its regular timeslot from January through mid-March 2022, Carbone reported that Season 27 of The Bachelor will begin filming by the end of February 2022 and likely premiere in May 2022.
Michelle ultimately eliminated Clayton from her lineup of bachelors because although he had been vulnerable -- and had been chosen as Michelle's fifth-grade students' top choice -- she said "something was missing" in their relationship.
"You have checked every single box of all the qualities I'm looking for in somebody," Michelle told Clayton. "But I know that giving out this rose means I'm ready to meet your family, and I don't feel that I'm able to get there with you in time."
Michelle assured Clayton that he's "enough," but he was left wondering where he went wrong.
"Everything seemed to be going well and then all of a sudden it stopped, and that sucks," Clayton said in his final words.
"I'm completely vulnerable and this is what happens... I open myself up to be hurt. I stayed closed off for so long because it takes the right person to make me feel comfortable opening up, and Michelle did that."
Clayton graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Health Science from the University of Missouri, where he also minored in Business and Spanish.
Clayton was a walk-on player and scholarship recipient for the University of Missouri football team, and he went on to have a brief stint with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.