| USA TODAY
“The Bachelorette” replaces Chris Harrison as host for 17th season
“Chris Harrison will not be hosting the next season of ‘The Bachelorette,'” reads a joint statement provided to USA TODAY.
USA TODAY, Wochit
This year’s new “Bachelorette” star has been announced – but there’s a twist.
Katie Thurston, a 29-year-old bank marketing manager who finished in 11th place during Matt James’ season of “The Bachelor” this year, will assume the lead role on the reality dating show this summer, she revealed Monday night during the show’s “After the Final Rose” special.
But that isn’t all – James’ runner-up, 27-year-old elementary school teacher Michelle Young, will also become a “Bachelorette” star in a separate second season this fall.
“We’re the Bachelorettes,” Thurston and Young announced together.
The dual “Bachelorette” announcements came Monday during the taped “After the Final Rose” ceremony, hosted by Emmanuel Acho following news that the longtime host, Chris Harrison, would be “stepping aside for a period of time” over a controversy in which he defended contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts.
On Friday, ABC announced that Harrison would sit out the upcoming “Bachelorette” season and be replaced by former “Bachelorette” stars, 2020’s Tayshia Adams and 2015’s Kaitlyn Bristowe.
Who is Katie Thurston?
Thurston, a Renton, Washington, native, made waves during her stint on “The Bachelor” as the contestant who introduced herself to James with a purple sex toy that became a point of discussion during the first episode. (Prior to appearing on the show, she gained a following on social media with a series of sex-positive TikTok videos.)
“I’m ready to find love,” she said Monday. “I’ve seen it work before. Why can’t it work for me?”
Throughout the season, Thurston positioned herself as a peacemaker in an increasingly toxic, chaotic house that featured a myriad of bullying accusations.
“The house actually did have some great women and unfortunately drama overshadowed it,” she reflected at the “Women Tell All” special earlier this month.
Who is Michelle Young?
Young, an Edina, Minnesota native and former college basketball player at Illinois’ Bradley University, will star in a separate season this fall.
“Once I found out it was two different seasons, I was here for it,” Young told Acho. “I am ready and I really do think this process can work … you can learn a lot about somebody. I’m ready to get started.”
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As revealed during Monday’s finale, James said goodbye to her prior to engagement day after realizing he didn’t think he could “get there.”
Young was one of four contestants who joined the show in Week 3, and she and James quickly made a connection during a one-on-one date early on in her time on the show.
Later on her hometown date (held at a Pennsylvania resort like the rest of the season due to COVID-19 safety concerns), James met a few of her students, who adorably grilled the Bachelor on whether their teacher would get a rose.
Speaking to James during “ATFR,” Michelle said she “crumbled” in the aftermath of their breakup, made all the more difficult by Matt’s refusal to talk to her for the sake of closure.
“It was a conversation so that I could have my inner peace when I left, and you said no,” she said. Matt apologized and said he wished he could go back and have that talk.
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