ABC announced on After the Final Rose on Monday night, which wrapped up Matt James' season of The Bachelor, that Katie will star on The Bachelorette's upcoming season airing in the summer and Michelle will serve as the leading lady in the fall.
"It's time to look ahead to the future -- the next Bachelorette. Now, Matt had such an incredible group of women, the choice was more difficult than ever before," After the Final Rose host Emmanuel Acho announced at the end of the special.
"Ultimately it came down to two strong, deserving women. I think we need to talk to both of them before we make that big reveal. So please welcome Michelle and Katie!"
Emmanuel confirmed ABC has made its decision, and then Michelle and Katie said simultaneously, "We're the Bachelorettes!"
"That's right," Emmanuel noted, "two separate seasons, two separate women, two separate journeys hopefully ending up in two separate engagements. Congratulations, ladies."
Reports Katie had been cast as the Bachelorette began swirling in early February, but Michelle's casting was reported for the first time just last week by Reality Steve spoiler blogger Steve Carbone.
Michelle recalled the moment when she first found out she'd be starring on the franchise.
"I would be lying if I didn't say when they first told me, I thought we were going to be the Bachelorette at the same time," Michelle shared.
"And so, I was a little nervous, but once I found out it was two different seasons, I was here for it! I'm excited that I have somebody to bond with over this and share notes as we go."
Given Katie's season will begin filming first -- by the end of the month, reportedly -- she expressed a lot of excitement.
"I'm ready to find love, and not just, like, the temporary kind. I'm talking forever, my husband, and I'm in a place in my life where I feel like I'm the best version of me," Katie said.
"Honestly, I've seen this work before; why can't it work for me?"
While Katie was eliminated from Matt's season before hometown dates, Michelle fell madly in love with Matt and was ousted in second place before the Final Rose Ceremony.
Emmanuel therefore asked Michelle if she felt ready to try to find love once again.
"I am ready, and like Katie said, I really do think that this process works," Michelle explained.
"When you can [cast] out all of these outside distractions and really dive in, I think you can learn a lot about somebody. I'm just excited. I'm ready to get started!"
According to Carbone, The Bachelorette's seventeenth season starring Katie will tape at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.
ABC will also reportedly roll out another edition of Bachelor in Paradise this summer, which is on schedule to begin production in June 2021. Season 7 of Paradise, which producers skipped entirely last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will likely tape all throughout July.
The resort where bachelors and bachelorettes will be given a second chance to find their perfect match, however, has yet to be announced.
Michelle's The Bachelorette season will then film at some point after Bachelor in Paradise wraps production, Carbone claims.
"I'm sure some are asking, 'If they wanted Michelle, why didn't they just give her the season about to be filmed? Why have Katie as the Bachelorette up first?'" Carbone recently wrote in his blog.
Michelle apparently declined the opportunity to filmThe Bachelorette right away because she is dedicated to her job as a kindergarten school teacher and doesn't want to let her students down.
"The reason is that Michelle did not want to leave her class again to start filming in a few weeks (meaning she'd miss most of the remainder of her school year), hence the reason she is getting her own season this summer when she's out of school," Carbone explained.
Katie, a 30-year-old bank marketing manager from Lynnwood, WA, was sent home during her first one-on-one date with Matt because the Bachelor wasn't quite on the same page about his feelings for her.
Katie, known for her "adult humor" and "comedic entertainment videos" on social media, appeared to be the only woman denouncing bullying and gossip on the The Bachelor's 25th season. She called out the "mean girls" in the house and asked Matt to address rumors.
Michelle, a 27-year-old former Division I basketball player from Woodbury, MN, showed up late on Matt's season following the third Rose Ceremony.
Matt and Michelle, however, had an instant connection and Michelle admitted she was absolutely crushed and "not okay" when Matt chose to eliminate her after she met his family at the end of the process.
Michelle revealed to Matt on After the Final Rose, "The moment you left, I completely crumbled. I had to walk away without closure, and I had to fill in the gaps of what our relationship was, and I wasn't okay. I wasn't okay at all."
"And producers were in my room seeing how bad I was hurting, and I asked you for a conversation," she added, "and it wasn't a conversation where I was trying to change your trajectory or change your mind... It was so I could have inner-peace when I left Pennsylvania, and you said, 'No.'"
Matt apologized to Michelle for denying her that conversation she so desperately needed at the time.
"We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing. In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will support the new Bachelorette through next season."
Chris announced in February that he was "stepping aside" as The Bachelor host and was dedicated to "getting educated" on a "profound" level after he defended Rachael Kirkconnell's racist actions and dismissed the heavy backlash that had been aimed at Matt's bachelorette since early January when The Bachelor's 25th season premiered.
"As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion within The Bachelor franchise," the statement said, "we are dedicated to improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks."
"These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world," Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment concluded.
In his controversial early-February Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay, who starred as the first Black Bachelorette on Season 13, Chris called for "grace" and "compassion" for Rachael and also criticized the "woke police" and the "unbelievably alarming" response to the young woman's past racially-ignorant and racially-insensitive actions.
Rachael was accused of bullying a girl in high school for dating a Black man and recently liking offensive photos on Instagram, such as two friends posing in front of a Confederate flag.
In addition to an image of Rachael dressed in Native-American costume, photos also resurfaced of Rachael attending a plantation-themed "Old South" fraternity party at Georgia College & State University in 2018.
Multiple sources recently told OK! Weekly that Emmanuel's performance on The Bachelor: After the Final Rose special -- which was filmed in advance for the first time in years -- may have served as his audition to take over Chris's hosting job in the future.
"If Emmanuel does a great job and gets huge ratings, Chris is gone forever," an insider told the magazine.
Another source said The Bachelor producers have been "getting clobbered with calls for Chris's removal as host and they are weighing that option."
Many The Bachelor fans, however, are still standing behind Chris and rallying for him to stay on the show, and Chris announced earlier this month on Good Morning America that he wants to continue being the face of the franchise.
"I plan to be back and I want to be back," Chris told GMA co-host Michael Strahan. "This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done, and I am excited to be a part of that change."
Chris also said during that GMA interview, "I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake, and I own that."
"I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for," he continued. "I am committed to the progress, not just for myself but also for the franchise... Racism, oppression, these are big, dynamic problems and they take serious work, and I am committed to that work."
Prior to his appearance on GMA, Chris also issued two apologies on his Instagram account late last month.
Rachel publicly admitted she had a tough time accepting Chris' first apology since his words seemed hasty and insincere, and so Chris went on to release a more extensive and remorseful letter to Bachelor Nation on Instagram.
Despite Chris' two statements, Rachel and other members of Bachelor Nation expressed hesitation and concern over whether Chris should ever return to his role as host of the franchise.