For the first time since his 2021 exit from the “Bachelor” franchise, Chris Harrison is speaking out at length. During the first two episodes of iHeartRadio’s “The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever…With Chris Harrison,” which dropped on Sunday evening, he admitted that he was “heartbroken” and “gutted” by the controversy.
“I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself. I was disappointed in myself. The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative — whether it had to do with race or anything,” Harrison, who hosted “The Bachelor” and its spinoffs from its debut in 2002 until his 2021 exit, said. “Things spun out of control for a number of reasons and I was sick, sick to my stomach. I lost 20 pounds. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I was scared to death… It was just one gut-punch after the other, and mentally and physically I deteriorated pretty bad.”
Harrison’s fiancée, Lauren Zima, joined the second episode, noting that they received awful comments online following the exit: “It wasn’t easy having people tell me or you to die, to kill ourselves, that we’re horrible.”
The longtime host permanently left the franchise after an “infamous” interview on “Extra,” during which he defended “Bachelor” winner Rachael Kirkconnell, who had previously shared controversial photos of herself at an antebellum-themed fraternity formal. While he publicly apologized, he said on the new podcast that he still “stands by” the point he was trying to make during that interview, but didn’t say it the correct way.
“The way I did it, it was messy, it was disappointing and it’s just not me,” he shared. “My apology was warranted because I did misstep and I made a mistake.”
However, he never saw the backlash coming and thought that after his apology, he would move forward and keep his job. Instead, he ultimately stepped away from the show and was replaced by Jesse Palmer — a decision that surprised Harrison. After the interview, multiple members of Bachelor Nation commented on what happened, including Nick Viall.
“Nick wasn’t really strongly against me for anything but I think Nick was one of those among many who probably saw the blood in the water and saw the opportunity of a job that would be really phenomenal and no doubt he wanted that job,” Harrison said. “We saw each other at Wells [Adams] and Sarah [Hyland]’s wedding and gave each other a big hug.”
Harrison, however, had a different idea for a host: Adams, who had been the “bartender” for multiple seasons on “Bachelor in Paradise.”
“Wells was in a very difficult situation because obviously he was still kind of connected to the show and he was doing stuff on ‘Paradise,’ but he was one of the first to reach out to me and just say, ‘Look, I’m staying out of this. I love you and respect you,'” he said. “I appreciated that, and I appreciate him, because if anybody had sights on the job it easily was Wells, and deservedly so by the way. I thought, to be completely candid, that Wells was going to get the job. I thought that was kind of the easiest call since Ken Jennings got the ‘Jeopardy’ job. He’s in the family. Everyone loves him. It just seemed like a layup, but that’s not how it went down. I even told him, ‘Man, I won’t speak out publicly, because I don’t think that would help you at all. In fact it would probably do a lot more harm than good, but I really hope you get the job. I think you’d be great at it.'”
Harrison also cryptically hinted that he knows things that aren’t great behind the scenes at “The Bachelor.”
“I am sure there are a lot of people that are sitting in Hollywood right now that are nervous as hell that I am doing a podcast,” he said. “Maybe you should be, because you probably know that I know.”
Plus, while he doesn’t watch the show anymore, he has kept an eye on the ratings.
“When I left, it was still the number one show on TV. Now, look. Do I keep an eye on the ratings? Do I know what’s happening now? I’m not going to say I’m not so humble or whatever to have not paid attention to the scoreboard. Yes, I do know,” Harrison said. “I realize the ratings are down 50 to 60% and the show has changed dramatically. That hurts me a little bit because it’s something I took pride in building.”