“The Bachelor” is welcoming Season 5 star Jesse Palmer back to the franchise — this time as the host. ABC announced Tuesday that the former NFL player will host Season 26 of “The Bachelor.”
Palmer is replacing longtime host Chris Harrison, who stepped down from the series in June due to controversy involving his defense of a Season 25 contestant’s past racist behavior.
“For more than 20 years, ‘The Bachelor’ has brought the world dozens of unforgettable love stories, including at one time, my own,” said Palmer in a statement. “Falling in love is one of life’s greatest gifts, and I am humbled by the opportunity to return to the show as host this season to offer the newest Bachelor advice gained from firsthand experience and I am grateful to play a small part in his journey.”
A former NFL quarterback, Palmer’s season of “The Bachelor” aired in 2004, where he was one of the show’s youngest suitors. He has been an ESPN college football analyst since 2007 and will be returning for the 2021-22 season. Palmer also has hosted a wide range of competition shows including “The Proposal,” “The Holiday Baking Championship” and “The Ultimate Surfer.”
Harrison served for 25 seasons as host of “The Bachelor”; he also hosted spinoffs “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.” During the most recent season of the flagship dating series, which starred Matt James, the first Black Bachelor in the franchise’s history, Harrison was caught up in a firestorm over racism after he publicly defended the past racist behavior of Rachael Kirkconnell (who ultimately was named the season’s winner).
After Harrison stepped away temporarily, Emmanuel Acho took over as host for the special episode “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose.” Harrison later officially departed the franchise, and alums Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe hosted Season 18 of “The Bachelorette.”
Season 26 of “The Bachelor” with Palmer will air in 2022.
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