Bachelor Nation is buzzing about the next Bachelor. His season won't air until 2022—but now, fans finally have a name (and a face!) to root for. According to Reality Steve, hints dropped by Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss, and an unofficial announcement from this season's new host, ABC's next leading man is Clayton Echard.
The roses will be handed out by a totally fresh face! A source explained to The Hollywood Reporter that ABC's next hunky suitor will be a contestant from Michelle Young's upcoming Bachelorette season. Apparently, his story on Michelle's season was so touching that the producers felt they had to give him a second chance at love. (Aw!)
Michelle's list of guys is super impressive, so it's no surprise that one of them has what it takes to be the star of his own season. And even though ABC hasn't confirmed the Bachelor's identity yet, Clayton has already confirmed it to the press. Here's everything to know about the mystery stud:
Warning: major spoilers ahead! Do not keep reading if you don't want to know what happens on Season 18 of The Bachelorette before it airs on ABC!
His name is Clayton Echard.
The host of season 26, former Bachelor Jesse Palmer, just posted a snap on Instagram that seems to confirm Clayton's role as Bachelor Nation's next leading man. "Meet my younger, bigger, better looking brother from another mother, @claytonechard 🌹#TheBachelor," Jesse wrote in the caption:
(FYI, Jesse tagged four of the official Bachelor franchise IG accounts! So, yep, this seems like a pretty strong endorsement.)
And, Bachelor franchise producer Mike Fleiss was positively gushing about the newbie on Twitter: "Major Announcement!!! Your new #TheBachelor is a great guy from Michelle’s season of #TheBachelorette . Can’t wait for you to meet him!" he wrote.
Mike shared another hint for fans, too: "Another Major Announcement!!! His first name starts with the letter “C.” #TheBachelor," he added.
Plus, Reality Steve, the king of Bachelor Nation spoilers, revealed that he was positive The Bachelor had to be Clayton back in September. Btw, here he is:
Steve shared all the deets on the potential newcomer: "Looks like Clayton Echard is going to be the next Bachelor," he Tweeted. Clayton is 28 and hails from Eureka, Missouri, according to Steve. Just look at that megawatt smile!
Steve also confirmed that Clayton "is from Michelle’s season. So he’ll be 3 weeks into filming his season before you ever see him on your screen. They will be filming at Eureka HS tmrw - his old high school - for more intro package footage."
Sure enough, a source sent E! News photos of Clayton filming what looks like a promo shoot in his hometown.
He's totally ready to find the love of his life.
In a video shared by St. Louis' Fox affiliate, Clayton was spotted filming in downtown Eureka, Missouri. With a camera crew in tow, he thanked a group of fans for wishing him well on his Bachelor journey and mentioned how ready he was to meet that special someone. "I'm excited, I'm also very, very nervous," he said. "I'm hoping to find my person."
It's worth noting, though, that ABC still hasn't confirmed who the next Bachelor will be—but this is some pretty solid evidence, don't you think?
Clayton played football in college and almost went pro.
According to his Instagram bio, Clayton is a "former freestyle rapper and washed-up athlete now trying his luck in orthopaedic sales."
He played Division I football in college for the University of Missouri-Columbia Tigers while earning his Bachelor's degree in Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, per his LinkedIn. He also minored in Business and Spanish. After starting his sophomore year as a defensive lineman, Clayton found his calling as a tight end, according to the team's roster.
After graduating in 2016, Clayton tried out for the Seattle Seahawks and successfully signed on as a free agent. He played in four preseason games and survived the first round of cuts, but he wrote on his LinkedIn that he didn't end up making the team.
"Definitely miss these days! I think I still have a couple good plays in me..." he captioned an old football pic on Instagram.
Now, he works in orthopedic sales.
Clayton currently works as a sales representative for Stryker, where he sells medical equipment to hospitals. He's worked his way up at the company for five years (so, yep, he's at least a little career-oriented).
Clayton even posts pics on the job, in scrubs and everything: "3 competitor reps working together to provide a superior patient outcome!" he captioned an old snap.
He's also working on earning his MBA in Health Care Administration/Management online from Southeast Missouri State University. A total smarty? We love to see it.
Clayton is pretty outdoorsy, and he's big into family.
Fitness is super important to Clayton: "I enjoy hiking and biking on the nature trails around the Columbia area," he wrote on his LinkedIn. "I make it my duty to emphasize living a healthy lifestyle, therefore I exercise daily and am in the process of learning to cook healthy meals that also surprisingly have flavor!" Plus, his IG is filled with pics of him crushing super intense workouts at the gym.
He's also pretty adventurous, and he enjoys hiking or boating with his friends and fam. (Here's hoping the ladies of season 26 can keep up with him!) Exhibit A:
Clayton is also one of three brothers. His siblings, Patrick and Nate, star in quite a few of his old posts, usually alongside their dad and mom, Kelly.
Filming for the next season of the Bachelor is already underway. So watch out for Clayton to pop up on Michelle Young's journey to find love in October—and get ready for his premiere on ABC in January 2022.