And the New Lead for ‘The Bachelor’ Season 26 Is…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Now that Clayton Echard has been sent home on Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette, ABC can finally confirm what fans already saw coming: The former NFL player, 28, is returning to the small screen as the king of roses.

ABC just revealed that Echard will lead season 26 of The Bachelor, which is set to premiere on January 3, 2022. The network announced the exciting news during last night’s episode of The Bachelorette by releasing a never-before-seen teaser for the upcoming installment.

The trailer offers a rare glimpse at The Bachelor season 26, which is filled with cheesy dates, confrontations and contestant drama. “I’m just a Midwest guy from Missouri that just wants to find love,” Echard says in the clip. “And I believe more than anything that my future wife is here.”

Right on cue, one girl interrupts a tranquil group date to confront another woman about throwing her under the bus. “Keep my name out of your f***ing mouth,” she says. To which someone adds, “That girl will do whatever it takes.”

The news about Echard’s new role shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to fans. ABC previously released a list of potential contestants for season 26, and while the network didn’t confirm any rumors, many people already believed that Echard would become the newest suitor. But at the time, the athlete was still a contender on Young’s season of The Bachelorette.

Hey, at least Echard has something (read: football) in common with new Bachelor host Jesse Palmer.

Want all the latest entertainment news sent right to your inbox? Click here.

Shop the Best of 'The Bachelor' Style:

Greta Heggeness

Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...
read full bio