Matt Apparently ‘Blindsided’ His Winner After His ‘Bachelor’ Finale—Here’s How

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For months, Bachelor Nation members have had one question on their minds: Who is The Bachelor 2021 winner who gets engaged to Matt James? Matt, a 28-year-old real estate broker from New York City (and Tyler Cameron’s best friend!), was announced as the season 25 Bachelor in June 2020.

Unlike the past six Bachelors, Matt is the first Bachelor since Brad Womack to not be a former Bachelorette contestant. Originally chosen as a contestant for season 16 of The Bachelorette with Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams, Matt bypassed the Bachelorette and was announced as the Bachelor franchise’s 25th Bachelor on Good Morning America. “It’s an honor,” he said at the time of his announcement. “I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”

Matt also made history as the Bachelor franchise’s first Black Bachelor in its 20-plus-year history. Overall, Matt is the franchise’s third Black lead after season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay and season 16 Bachelorette Tayshia Adams. “In my opinion I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing,” he told Good Morning America. “Too little too late for me is this happening and we can’t have change until we put that first foot forward and the first foot forward for The Bachelor franchise is having a black lead so I’m excited to take on that role.”

That’s the gist when it comes to Matt. But back to our original question: Who is The Bachelor 2021 winner? Find out what we know about who won season 25 of The Bachelor (and Matt James’ heart) ahead.

Who is The Bachelor 2021 winner?

Rachael: The Bachelor 2021

Image: Courtesy of ABC.

So…who won Matt’s season of The Bachelor? Well, according to Reality Steve, the Bachelor 2021 winner is Rachael Kirkconnell, a 24-year-old graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia. Matt’s final three are Rachael, Bri (and Michelle Young (one of five contestants who were brought on after the second rose ceremony.) Serena Pitt is Matt’s fourth-place finalist. Reality Steve also reports that Michelle was eliminated before Matt’s final rose ceremony, which means that Rachael was the only one Matt could’ve given a rose to at the last ceremony. Matt is the second Bachelor to eliminate his runner-up outside of the final rose ceremony after season 23 Bachelor Colton Underwood. The move is common for Bachelorettes. (i.e. season 12’s Rachel Lindsay and Peter Kraus and season 16’s Tayshia Underwood and Ben Smith.)

According to Reality Steve’s sources (a.k.a. Rachael’s friends and family from Cumming, Georgia), Michelle and Rachael are Matt’s final two, and Rachel is his winner. Though Reality Steve isn’t 100 percent sure Matt’s winner is Rachael, he has strong reason to believe that it’s her after receiving evidence that Bri and Michelle (Matt’s other final three contestants) don’t win. In January 2021, Matt was also seen listening to Rachael’s “Nigh Drive” playlist on Spotify, which led fans to believe that they have a relationship after the show.

Are Matt & Rachael Still Together?

So are Rachael and Matt engaged? Reality Steve confirmed that Matt did not propose to Rachael at the final rose ceremony and they’re not engaged. As Reality Steve notes, only one Bachelor who proposed ended up marrying his winner and that was season 17’s Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici, so Matt isn’t that out of the ordinary. As for if Matt and Rachael are still together, unfortunately, they’re not. Reality Steve confirmed in February 2021 that Mat and Rachael had broken up. His report came after sources also told the celebrity gossip Instagram @DeuxMoi that Rachael and Matt had split due to her racism controversy

If you’re not caught up on Rachael’s racism controversy, here’s a recap: In January 2021, Rachael came under fire after TikTok user @maddyybierster, a former of high school classmate of Rachael’s, claimed that she was bullied by Rachael for dating Black men. “girlieee, remember when you bullied me in high school for liking black guys???” the user captioned a clip of Rachael on a date with Matt. After the TikTok went viral, the user shared several DMs from other women who claimed to have similar experiences with Rachael when it came to dating Black men.

A TikTok video by @feministmama then went viral in January 2021, where the user exposed Rachael for liking racist social media posts and associating herself with controversial groups. The TikToker shared three social media screenshots that Rachael liked: one of two women in front of a Confederate flag, one of three women dressed in sombreros, ponchos and mustaches, and one of a woman in a “Make America Great Again” hat. The user also claimed that Rachael hasn’t voted in the past four general elections, sharing a screenshot of her voting history. @Feministmama also shared screenshots of Rachael‘s parents supporting Donald Trump and other Republican politicians. According to the screenshots, her father donated to WinRed, a fundraising platform that supported Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Matt later responded to the racism claims around Rachael in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in February 2021. “I have not spoken to anybody since the show ended, but I would say that you have to be really careful about what you are doing on social media,” he said at the time. “Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people’s lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that.” A few weeks later, Matt took to his Instagram to release an official statement on Rachael’s scandal, which Reality Steve believes was written after he broke up with her.

“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming,” he wrote.

He continued, “The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly…Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch,” James continued. “As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that ‘The Bachelor’ franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.”

Will Matt & Rachael Get Back Together?

Like Clare Crawley and Dale Moss, it’s understandable that fans wonder if Matt and Rachael will get back together. According to The Sun, there’s not a chance. The newspaper reported in March 2021 that Matt “blindsided” Rachael with their split and “refuses to speak” with her.

“He’s ignored her messages and won’t provide any answers from when he blindsided her with the split,” a source told The Sun, claiming that Matt has “shut her out.” “The breakup came completely out of nowhere. He stood by her throughout the drama until he suddenly chose not to.”

According to The Sun’s source, production “got to Matt” and “ruined” his relationship with Rachael. “He listened to producers who initially supported Rachael but became controlling and more unsupportive of them after Chris Harrison’s interview with Rachel Lindsay,” the source said. “Once the network started getting canceled and not just Rachael, their tone changed. It seems they got in his head and convinced him that his image would be saved if he dumped Rachael. So that’s what he did.”

For more Bachelor spoilers, click here.

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

"Bachelor Nation" by Amy Kaufman

Image: Courtesy of Penguin Books.

To get more of an inside scoop, check out Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman’s book, Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure, for a deep dive into the Bachelor franchise. The book uncovers the secrets of Bachelor Nation, from how much the Bachelor and the Bachelorette are paid to the rules contestants have to follow, that producers don’t want fans to know. It’s a must-read for any Bachelor Nation member.

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