After temporarily stepping aside from his duties as longtime host of ABC’s Bachelor franchise earlier this year, Chris Harrison has officially left his 19-year gig for good.
“I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” Harrison wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”
Harrison’s announcement comes the day after the premiere of season 17 of The Bachelorette, where the TV personality was noticeably missing from the post he’s held since 2002. Instead, show alums and co-hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are shepherding Katie Thurston as she navigates romance, reality TV-style.
In February, Harrison stepped aside from hosting The Bachelor and spinoff shows “for a period of time” as backlash continued over his controversial comments about photos showing Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor, attending an antebellum-plantation-themed party. Matt James, star of that season, was The Bachelor’s first Black lead and named the graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia, as his top pick at the end of series.
The pictures evoked a painful period in American history before the Civil War ended slavery, and they sparked serious, soul-searching discussion among Bachelor fans and former contestants about race, representation and accountability. At the height of the controversy, a petition called for the removal of Harrison as host of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and spinoff shows, and the #FireChrisHarrison hashtag trended. Harrison issued several public apologies for his words.on events leading to Harrison’s departure.
Last week’s news that comedian David Spade and others will rotate as guest hosts of Bachelor in Paradise this summer led many to speculate Harrison would be leaving the franchise for good.
Before Harrison’s Tuesday comments made the breakup official, Deadline posted an exclusive story about the pending announcement. It reported much negotiating had gone on behind the scenes and that Harrison’s departure would come “in the form of mid-range eight-figure payoff and [a] promise to keep his mouth shut.”
“The usual platitudes are expected to be exchanged for public consumption when the agreement is made public later today, but there is certainly no romance in the air behind the scenes,” Deadline said.
A number of “Bachelor Nation” members did, however, share words of love and support for Harrison following his announcement.
“It will never be the same. Truly the end of an era,” wrote Ashley Iaconetti Haibon, a former contestant on The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise and a high-profile alum of the franchise. Wrote former Bachelor lead Arie Luyendyk Jr., “Love you brotha. On to bigger and better things.”