Since its debut in 2002, the Bachelor franchise has revolutionized the world of reality TV. Over 24 seasons and spin-offs like The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, the on and off-air antics of the romantic empire has taken entertainment to new dramatic heights. From cruel lies to shocking surprises both on and off camera, here are the most scandalous facts about The Bachelor.
The Bachelor’s Low Success Rate
The premise of The Bachelor is pretty straightforward—a group of contestants compete for the love of one individual, and the winner receives an engagement proposal at the end of the season. A simple formula for true love that seems pretty hard to screw up, right? Well, somehow, many of the show’s participants never got the memo. It took a full thirteen seasons until a couple from the show actually went through with getting married in real life.
1. The Old Switcharoo
But even the show’s first real-life wedding did not come about without some controversy. It all started when Season 13’s featured bachelor, Jason Mesnick, selected Melissa Rycroft as his winner—but then quickly changed his mind. In the season finale, Mesnick shocked viewers when he retracted his proposal to Rycroft and instead proposed to her runner-up, Molly Malaney. The couple got married in a televised wedding in 2010, and they’ve been together ever since.
2. Rozyln Papa, Whistleblower
In 2009, scandal erupted when contestant Rozlyn Papa was accused of having an affair with Ryan Callahan, one of the show’s producers, and sent home from the show. I guess this wasn’t what the viewers had in mind when they tuned in to see contestants find love! But as crazy as that already is, there’s more to this story…
3. Sign on the Dotted Line
The show has a policy whereby contestants sign a contract promising not to speak publicly about their experiences or reveal any “behind the scenes” information. The consequence for breaking this contract is a fine of five million dollars. This intense policy has created quite a bit of mystery around the show over the years, including more than a few questions about what they’re trying to hide…
4. Breaking the Silence
Going way out on an unprecedented limb, Rozlyn Papa broke the terms of her contract and risked getting herself into a lot of trouble to speak out about her alleged affair with the show’s producer. Papa denied that she ever got physical in any way with the producer, and claimed that the show “manufactured” the whole situation in order to provide an interesting storyline.
5. Taking a Chance
Papa says she took this risk because she was distressed by all the negative attention. Apparently, her lawyer advised her that the network would have to release its behind the scenes footage if a lawsuit began. Knowing that the secretive TV moguls would never allow that, they predicted that the show would just ignore Papa’s denials. They were right.
6. History Repeats Itself
Ten years later, Papa’s story made waves again when she re-emerged to defend an Australian Bachelor contestant, Rachael Arahill, who found herself in hot water over similar circumstances. Like Papa, Arahill was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a member of the show’s production staff. Arahill, too, denied the accuracy of the reports, leaving many to wonder what was really going on.
7. Tragedy in Paradise
Tragedy struck the Bachelor world in 2013 when Gia Allemand, a popular former contestant on two of the franchise’s series, attempted suicide by hanging and needed to be rushed to a local New Orleans hospital. Unfortunately, the medical professionals were unable to rescue her and she passed away. Some close to her have speculated that the pressures of the public spotlight became too much for her to handle, and this may have contributed to her devastating decision.
Crashing and Burning
The life of former Bachelor star Chris Soules has been anything but paradise since his time in the spotlight came to a close. Soules was arrested and sentenced to two years’ probation after he was accused of fleeing the scene of a tractor accident that he caused back in 2017. The crash killed a 66-year-old man named Kenny Mosher.
1. Where Oh Where Can My Bachelor Be?
According to the available accounts, Soules crashed into Mosher’s slow-moving tractor with his pickup truck, shoving the tractor into a ditch and tragically ending the 66-year-old’s life. While Soules did call 911 to report the accident and claims to have attempted CPR, he was nowhere to be found when the police arrived to respond to the accident.
2. Bachelor in Prison?
Although Soules only ended up receiving a sentence of two years’ probation, his victim’s family had been fighting hard for the former Bachelor star to receive the maximum sentence of five years in prison. Investigators found traces of alcohol at the scene, which didn’t help Soules’ case. In the end, he reached a plea deal with the prosecutors and was given a less severe punishment as a compromise.
Kaitlyn Bristowe’s Big Spoiler
The whole crux of the Bachelor shows is the excitement and anticipation of wondering who will be chosen at the end of each season. Because of that, spoiling who the winner will be ahead of time would pretty much ruin an entire season, right? Well, that’s exactly what some accused Bachelorette star Kaitlyn Bristowe of doing when she sent out a Snapchat showing herself in bed with contestant Shawn Booth before the finale of the show’s 2015 season.
As soon as the photo of Bristowe and Booth in bed together spread, speculation went wild. Many members of Bachelor nation assumed that she had just accidentally revealed who she was planning to choose as her man at the end of the season. Lo and behold, when the big day came, many people’s suspicions were confirmed. She did choose Booth.
2. Return to Sender
So what exactly happened there? Why would the star of an often secretive show leak something that could ruin its whole gimmick? It turns out the photo was a total accident. Bristowe had intended to privately send the Snap to the producers of her show. She had no idea when she hit send that it would spark one of the biggest scandals in the show’s history.
3. Moving Along
The couple first suspected that something had gone very wrong with their Snapchat photo when they started seeing it shared all over Twitter. When they realized what had happened, Booth experienced a panic attack and even said that he couldn’t breath. He feared that he would be thrown off the show as a punishment.
Then, he realized it was actually Bristowe who had been responsible for the error. The network executives were outraged; so much so that they immediately sent a car over to take Booth away from her for the time being.
Ben Higgins: Double Trouble
Jealousy is pretty common in relationships, but you’d be hard pressed to find an example where it was more warranted than in the case of Bachelor star Ben Higgins. I guess you could call him indecisive—but however you want to word it, he messed up! Higgins caused some massive drama when he told not one but two finalists that he loved them towards the end of his season—giving at least one of them false hope that they’d be picked when he knew full well that he could not choose both in the end.
1. You Did What??
Higgins ended up choosing Lauren Bushnell to propose to, breaking JoJo Fletcher’s heart after having led her to believe he loved her too. But in the end, it wasn’t just JoJo whom he hurt—the one he chose was pretty devastated too to find out that her new fiancé had been secretly professing his life to someone else behind her back!
2. Doomed from the Start
Upon becoming a couple, Higgins and Bushnell immediately ran into some major turmoil over the whole issue of his telling another woman that he loved her. The drama was harder for Bushnell to get over than Higgins probably realized it would be. According to Bushnell, it caused her to feel resentment towards him right from the start. However, she felt no hard feelings towards JoJo.
3. Cutting Ties
These problems were ultimately too much for the couple to handle, and they split up shortly after their time on the show ended. I guess when you try to have everything, sometimes you end up with nothing! Either way, it didn’t seem to phase Higgins too much in the long run—when his ex-fiance married country singer Chris Lane, Higgins’ response was to say he hoped it would finally end their ties to each other in the minds of the public. I guess he was really over the whole thing!
4. You Made the Wrong Choice, Bro!
On the other hand, the cost of Higgins’ gamble might have been greater than he realized, as he may have chosen the wrong person. On the eve of her own wedding to someone else, JoJo Fletcher, the girl he turned down, spoke out about her feelings towards Higgins. She claimed that she still believes their relationship would have worked out if he had picked her over Bushnell.
Megan Parris: More TV Than Reality
Of course Rozlyn Papa wasn’t the only Bachelor star to create controversy over how the show really works. In 2009, former contestant Megan Parris made a startling allegation. She claimed that the entire show is fake, and that editors heavily altar footage to create dramatic TV—whether or not it actually reflects the truth.
Parris even went so far as to allege that the show’s producers often “bullied” contestants while she was around, even demanding that they read scripted lines. So much for authenticity! This bullying apparently included things like name calling, berating, and cursing until the contestant agreed to say whatever the producers wanted.
2. Caught Red-Handed
More fuel was added to this fire in 2012, when a hot-mic recording accidentally revealed to the public that producers really were directing contestants behind the scenes and coaching them on exactly how to behave. They were even being told what emotions to show when the cameras were rolling, all for the sake of spicing up the TV plotlines.
Michelle K’s Forbidden Tryst
On pilot Jake Pavelka’s season of The Bachelor, the world met Michelle K. She seemed like any other contestant, but boy oh boy, she was not. During the filming of Bachelor in Paradise, Michelle K. allegedly had an affair with a sound technician. The story broke after Michelle announced that she was leaving the show because she was not attracted to anyone on it. In hindsight, I guess that wasn’t 100% true…
1. Legging It Out
It all started when Michelle and her new lover decided to sleep together during her last night before heading home. But then their dream romance turned into a complete nightmare. To avoid getting caught by a producer, the sound man jumped off her 25-foot high balcony—breaking both his legs and requiring hospitalization. In addition to his ability to walk, this stunt also cost the poor fella his job.
Josh Murray, Bachelor Nation’s Playboy-Villain
Evan Bass was one of the most controversial characters to ever appear in the Bachelor franchise. A professional erectile dysfunction specialist from Tennessee, Bass tried very hard to steal Amanda Stanton away from Josh Murray, the man she had all-but began to date on Bachelor in Paradise. But trying to come between the two lovebirds was only the beginning of this saga…
1. Doing a Little Digging
For Bass, it wasn’t merely just trying to put his best foot forward to try and win Amanda over fair and square. He went on the attack, big time. Bass brought a book to everyone’s attention by Murray’s ex-girlfriend, Andi Dorfman—who claimed that he had been verbally abusive towards her. As shocking as these allegations were, they still weren’t enough to convince love-struck Amanda to leave Josh’s side.
2. Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Maybe Stanton should have listened to Bass’ warnings after all—as in love with Murray as she seemed to be at that point, the relationship did not exactly work out too well in the long run. The couple ended up parting ways after their time on the show, and Stanton has since revealed the dark reason why. Apparently, Murray was extremely controlling and often tried to dictate who she could speak to and what she could wear.
3. I Spy
The last straw for the couple came when Stanton caught Murray literally spying on her while she was in the bathroom. He was peeking under the door to see if she was secretly texting anyone while pretending to just innocently use the facilities. Stanton even ended up writing a memoir about her experiences dating Murray, with all the juicy details included.
4. The Times They Are a-Changin’
Although she ignored Bass’ claims about Andi Dorfman’s book when she was on the show, Stanton now lends credibility to that book’s accusations against Murray. She has even referenced it as a legitimate source of understanding what the man is truly like. Isn’t it funny how quickly things seem to change when the shoe is on the other foot?
5. Sympathy for the Devil
Meanwhile, Murray referred to his ex’s book as a work of fiction, and got himself into some hot water when he fired back on social media in a pretty epic way. He posted an image of his proposal to Dorfman, with a devil emoji photoshopped over her face. Suffice it to say that this created even more controversy for him as far as the fans were concerned…
Evan Bass, What a Guy
While all of that was going on with Amanda Stanton, Evan Bass finally managed to move on. Though he was devastated by his failure to win Stanton over, he soon picked out yet another woman to become obsessed with—only to find out that she, too, did not like him back. In this case, it was Carly Waddell, who repeatedly stated that she was not attracted to him. She even refused a kiss from him and made fun of him on the air. However, that all started to change after one bizarre incident…
1. Turning Lemons Into Lemonade
In the middle of filming the show, Bass had an unexpected medical emergency and was rushed to the nearest doctor to receive immediate attention. When Waddell saw medics rushing to Bass’ side, she suddenly had a change of heart towards him and something suddenly clicked inside of her. From that point on, Waddell and Bass became inseparable. They have since gotten married and had a child.
2. A Classic Case of Fake-itus
But as crazy as that story already is, it still gets crazier! Fans pointed out that the show never clarified exactly what kind of medical issue Bass had suffered from, leading some to feel suspicious about it. Well, it turns out they were right to feel suspicious! Bass later claimed to have faked the injury that got his now-wife to fall for him!
3. Bad Blood
Fake illness or not, Bass was probably thrilled to have finally found love on the show, as well as an ally—since he had not always gotten along too well with his peers. In fact, Bass and fellow contestant Chad Johnson had a bitter rivalry and clashed consistently, with Johnson even ripping Bass’ shirt and threatening to “cut his head off.”
4. Getting Down to Business
The controversies for Bass didn’t end when his stint on the show came to a close. In late 2019, Bass was ordered to pay a whopping fine of $150,000 for false and deceptive advertising practices at his Tennessee erectile dysfunction business after a complaint was filed against him by a local consumer affairs attorney.
The Franchise’s Enormous Race Problem
Evan Bass’ scandals paled in comparison to the saga of former contestant Lee Garrett, who was criticized in 2017 when the internet circulated his loooong history of racially insensitive tweets. Fans were outraged and demanded an explanation from the network, who claimed to have had no knowledge of the offensive tweets.
1. Sharing His Views
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Lee Garrett’s racism scandal took place in the very same year that the franchise had decided to feature its first ever lead who came from an ethnic minority background—Rachel Lindsay, that year’s bachelorette, became the show’s first African-American lead after years of outcry from some over the show’s lack of ethnic diversity.
2. Playing It Safe?
As happy as the public was when the franchise selected Lindsay as its first ever minority lead, controversy ensued when Peter Weber was selected to play the equivalent role on the male side of the aisle. Several former contestants and participants, including Lindsay herself, criticized the show for selecting Weber, who is half-Cuban and half-caucasian, as its first male minority lead. They felt that the show chose him as a “safe” option because his skin still appeared white to most viewers.
3. Any Way the Wind Blows
Speaking of Peter Weber, it’s probably worth mentioning that prior to being named the show’s first minority bachelor, he was involved in a shocking scandal where he infamously slept with Bachelorette lead Hannah Brown inside of a windmill…a whopping four times. When Brown revealed this on the live finale, Weber’s parents cheered. Hmm.
4. Strong Start
I guess history repeats itself. Just a year after the Lee Garrett controversy, Bachelorette contestant Garrett Yrigoyen had been a frontrunner in the beginning of the season, even winning his prospective lover’s first-impression rose. However, both her and the public’s impressions of him quickly changed when a surprising new development came about…
5. You Are What You Like
It turned out that Yrigoyen had a long history of liking controversial and bigoted posts on Instagram. The posts in question included ones mocking the transgender community, immigrants, and the Parkland school shooting survivors. The posts were discovered and shared with the public by former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey.
Too Many Cheating Hearts
The reason people come on the Bachelor shows is to find their true love, right? Well, maybe not 100% of the time. In the case of Bachelorette contestant Jed Wyatt, controversy erupted when the public found out that he had only signed up for the show in order to gain publicity for his country music career. Yeehaw!
1. Double Date
But things got so much worse. Wyatt was actually still dating someone else in real life when he appeared as a contestant! In spite of this, he took the charade so far that he actually ended up proposing to someone from the show knowing full well what his true circumstances were! She was not amused when she learned the truth, and the engagement eventually fell through.
2. Your Cheatin’ Heart
Many fans were excited to see Jordan Kimball propose to Jenna Cooper in the Season Five finale of Bachelor in Paradise. Unfortunately, like many other hopes and dreams fans of this franchise have had, those plans were unexpectedly ruined—and at the last minute too. Just hours before the aforementioned episode was scheduled to air, it came out that Cooper had been cheating on Kimball by seeing another man in real life.
Colton Underwood’s Messy Journey
As a former football player, Colton Underwood was a very popular featured star during the season where he was the bachelor. While on the show, he began to develop very strong feelings for contestant Cassie Randolph. Unfortunately for him, she did not feel the same way. During a fantasy suite date between the two of them, she told Underwood that she was unsure of her feelings and that she wanted to leave the show.
1. Up, Up, and Away!
Underwood did not take this news well. When he heard that the girl he loved was unsure of her feelings, he stormed off the set, ran away from the TV cameras, and hopped the fence in anger. As devastating as this must have been for him, it definitely made for some good TV! Either way, things turned out alright in the end—the pair have since become a couple in real life.
2. Unanswered Questions
Long before he appeared on TV, Underwood faced endless bullying from his friends over the fact that he wanted to save his virginity until marriage. He wanted to do so because of his Christian beliefs, but his friends suspected it was because he was secretly gay. After endless taunting, this actually led a young Underwood to start believing their claims about him—and he seriously questioned his sexuality for some time as a result.
An Unexpected Fan
Even when this franchise doesn’t cause controversy on its own, controversy still manages to somehow find it—and sometimes in new and surprising ways. In March 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump created a stir when he compared the TV ratings for his COVID-19 emergency response press conferences to the ratings of the Bachelor.
The Commander-in-Chief bragged about how his ratings were beating those of the beloved reality show. As crazy as that comparison is, at least you know you’ve earned some attention when even the White House is making reference to you!
Even though most Bachelor contestants come on the show to meet new potential love interests, on at least one occasion they didn’t have to. Contestant Liz Sandoz and bachelor Nick Viall admitted on the show to previously having met at a wedding and slept together—the year before they appeared together on the show to compete for each other’s affection.