Chris Harrison has permanently exited The Bachelor franchise, after being sidelined for publicly defending Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and her racially insensitive past.
The host has been with the beloved reality series and its subsequent offshoots since 2002. According to Deadline, he was given an eight-figure severance package after his lawyer threatened to air the franchise’s secrets.
Last week, it was announced that David Spade and a roster of celebrities were going to guest host the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise, a move that hinted at Harrison’s upcoming departure.
Harrison found himself at the center of controversy after he appeared to defend Kirkconnell when photos from 2018 showed her partaking in an antebellum themed fraternity formal. It was a mistake,” Harrison said when asked by Michael Strahan why he defended Kirkconnell. “I made a mistake. I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake, and I own that.”
Around Valentine’s Day, Harrison broke the news that he would be “stepping aside” from The Bachelor, and was replaced by former NFL player Emmanuel Acho, who hosted March’s The Bachelor: After the Final Rose special.
“This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” Harrison wrote in a statement in February. “To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”
News of Harison’s departure arrived following Monday’s debut of The Bachelorette’s Season 17, which was co-hosted by former Bachelorette leads Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.