JoJo Fletcher, the runner-up on the last season of “The Bachelor,” is the new “Bachelorette.” The 25-year-old real estate broker from Dallas was beat out by “Bachelor” winner Lauren Bushnell, who’s now engaged to Ben Higgins from season 20 of the flagship series.
“Even though it didn’t work out with Ben, it definitely did something positive for me at the end. And that was it helped me go into this season,” Fletcher told reporters, including Variety, on a press call last week, ahead of the season 12 premiere.
ABC typically picks the franchise’s newest star from finalists on the most recent season of either “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette,” but Fletcher explained she was not aware she’d be picked as the network’s new reality star, until over one month after “The Bachelor” finale wrapped.
“The whole ‘Bachelorette’ idea didn’t get brought to my attention until probably a month or two after I had come back, so, I had enough time to pick up the pieces and get my life back together and kind of start to have that closure on my own,” Fletcher told press members. “It was not on my radar…it never crossed my mind…It’s not something I was thinking about going into last season. I was definitely shocked.”
Fletcher was a favorite on “The Bachelor,” but her selection came as a surprise, as insiders early on said that another finalist Caila Quinn would be the new leading lady. A bit of backlash erupted over the network not choosing a diverse lead, but in reality, Fletcher is of Persian decent. As for her on-camera appeal, the former contestant was one of the most adventurous and non-predictable cast members — plus, her two brothers and champagne-loving mother made an impression on viewers during last season’s hometown dates.
Teasing her summer season — which premieres Monday night, but has concluded shooting — Fletcher remained coy.
“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, but also one of the hardest,” she said, not revealing if she’s engaged or not, after the show. “I will say that the way that everything played out and how it ended. I am happy right now and I’m pleased with how [my] season went down.”
Speaking days before her debut on millions of screens across the country, Fletcher expressed her excitement over the caliber of fandom tuning into her show. Despite “The Bachelorette” being a more-than-likely convoluted reality dating show, the most recent finale still brought in 9.5 million viewers overnight, including a few outspoken celebrities (Kaley Cuoco, Jennifer Aniston and Amy Schumer are among the famous fans), some of which publicly take to Twitter to live tweet each episode.
“It’s just pretty amazing to hear how many celebrities I’ve always idolized growing up watch this show,” Fletcher said on the brink of the premiere.
“The Bachelorette” premieres Monday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.