Rumors And Spoilers About Clayton Echard's Bachelor Season

Season 26 of "The Bachelor" kicked things off in early January 2021, and fans are already captivated by Clayton Echard, the lead of this season, and the women who are vying to be his No. 1. While the identity of the newest Bachelor was kept secret for weeks, in late November 2021, Echard was finally revealed to be the new season's star. As a former contestant on "The Bachelorette," Echard was a familiar face and fans were happy to see him return to the franchise, even if they were a little confused (per Parade).

Of course, many people with their ears to the ground already predicted Echard as the choice, including reality show writer Reality Steve, who tweeted his prediction back in September 2021. "Bachelor" producer Mike Fleiss explained to puzzled fans that the show's team wanted to bring on a Bachelor who was truly sincere and that they all felt Echard fit the bill. 

Prior to joining the show, Echard worked at Stryker Orthopaedics, and he momentarily played football with the Seattle Seahawks after a college run at the University of Missouri-Columbia, according to his LinkedIn page. So, what will we see from him on the show? Here's what we suspect about Clayton Echard's "Bachelor" season and what you can look forward to.

Clayton Echard's Bachelor season includes international dates

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means that international dates were temporarily a thing of the past on "The Bachelor," but Clayton Echard's season is bringing the dates back in a big way. In October 2021, reality show expert Reality Steve shared on Twitter that the travel dates on this season of the show will include stops in Canada, Austria, and Croatia. 

You might be surprised to learn those aren't the only international countries that the cast of the show will visit. In November 2021, Reality Steve came back with even more details: Echard and three women were heading to Iceland to spend overnight dates together and for the show's ultimate final rose ceremony. So far, we don't know how the final rose date goes or who Echard ultimately ends up deciding to leave the show with, despite the names of the three women having already been reported.

The final three women might have already been revealed

When it comes to "The Bachelor," the show tries to maintain an air of mystery surrounding who will and won't be chosen as part of the final three toward the show's conclusion. Of course, in this day and age, it's not always possible to keep a contestant's choices shrouded in secrecy. When it comes to Clayton Echard's final three choices this season, some people feel like they already know who to expect.

Reality Steve, a writer who has built his career around chronicling what happens on shows like "The Bachelor," notes there are three women who definitely make it to this season's international date in Iceland: Susie Evans, Gabby Windey, and Rachel Recchia. Steve was quick to note that he didn't have any other information about who gets chosen, but for many diehard fans of "The Bachelor," just having those three names is enough.

This season of The Bachelor will have plenty of interesting dates

While international travel is always a pretty exciting prospect for many participants on "The Bachelor" (and let's be real — to most of us watching too), those aren't the only exciting dates that Clayton Echard takes some of the women on during this season of "The Bachelor." Unsurprisingly, Reality Steve has been sharing details of the dates as they've come in throughout filming.

In October 2021, Reality Steve revealed on Twitter that 10 women joined Echard at the beach for a special date with a "Baywatch" theme. If you're curious what that kind of date might be like, Steve was able to shed a little light on how it went down: "10 women had to wear the iconic red one piece from the show and compete in life guard related activities." Steve added that the date even had a winner, Gabby Windey, who won extra time with Echard himself.

Another date is a kid's birthday party, which might not sound like a blast to some adults but seems like it'll be pretty fun to watch. After Reality Steve shared the casting call for the party on Twitter, fans began speculating about what the party or group date might really be like.

Clayton Echard has admitted he found love on the show

While a lot of attention is paid to the escapades and adventures that contestants on "The Bachelor" participate in, it can sometimes be easy to forget that the show is about finding the love of your life. In late November 2021, Clayton Echard told "Good Morning America" that he did find love on the show, though he didn't offer any further details about the relationship he might or might not be in.

Echard told the team at "Good Morning America" that he went into the experience with a "checklist of sorts" for the type of woman he wanted to be with, and he ended up overwhelmed by how many of the women were wonderful people. He admitted, "I did find love, and I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey but I'm so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than what I had thought."

Six women had one-on-one dates with Clayton Echard

Of course, before anyone on the show gets to declare their love for only one person, there are a series of dates to go on. After all, the point of the show is to meet a lot of people and hope that one turns out to be the one. As such, StyleCaster revealed that Clayton Echard ends up going on one-on-one dates with six women. These include Susie Evans, Sarah Hamrick, Rachel Recchia, Serene Russell, Gabby Windey, and Teddi Wright.

Of the six women who go on one-on-one dates, Echard chose to progress to a second one-on-one date with three of the women during his season (Susie, Sarah, and Serene). As shared by Reality Steve on Twitter, Echard takes Susie and Sarah on their first dates in Los Angeles and Rachel and Serene out on dates in Houston, while he dates Gabby in Toronto, Teddi and Sarah in Croatia, and Susie and Serene in Vienna.

One woman loses her rose for texting another guy

This time around, contestants on the show had to quarantine in hotel rooms before filming could begin. This rule was put in place to protect everyone from catching coronavirus. Obviously, the show's participants had to come up with ways to entertain themselves while they were in quarantine, and it seems that 26-year-old executive assistant Cassidy Timbrooks spent part of her quarantine texting another man before her phone was taken away during filming. Of course, this led to some on-camera drama, and Clayton Echard was not happy about it.

As Reality Steve noted, word began to spread among contestants that Timbrooks, possibly after she confided in someone, had been talking to someone else. He wrote, "This news made it's way back to Clayton, and even though Cassidy already had a group date rose from that week, he decides to take it away from her and send her home."

Another contestant has dated two former Bachelor cast members

Gabby Windey is one of the contestants on this season of "The Bachelor" who is making a name for herself for a few reasons. As shared by Reality Steve, Windey is the winner of the Baywatch challenge date and, as a result, is rewarded with extra time with Clayton Echard. However, Windey is also well known by the "Bachelor" universe because she's dated not one but two former contestants from "The Bachelorette."

As shared by StyleCaster, Windey is the ex-girlfriend of Dean Unglert, who appeared on Season 13 of "The Bachelorette," and of Blake Horstmann, who was on Season 14. While speaking on the podcast "Help! I Suck At Dating," Unglert revealed that he and Windey were together in college and that he had high hopes for her on Echard's "Bachelor" season. Unglert said, "Producers called me and were like, 'Hey, we're thinking of casting this person — what do you think of her? We know that you dated 10 years ago.' And I was like, 'Oh, she's great. If she gets selected for the show, she'll either win the show or she'll be the next Bachelorette.'"

Fans did some detective work to figure out the final two contestants

According to StyleCaster, there is a lively thread on Reddit that indicates many fans believe that Susie Evans or Rachel Recchia is the winner of this season of "The Bachelor." The reasons vary, but many have to do with social media. As the site points out, Evans was the first of the final three to return to using her online accounts, which has been a sign that a contestant was sent home in the past. To thicken the plot, many of Evans' family members follow Clayton Echard, and the same can't be said for the family members of the other contestants.

Reality Steve stirred the pot on November 2021 when he posed a question to Twitter, writing, "Do I post pics of Susie from Clayton's season out last night so the subsequent dissection of the pics, freak out, and speculation from the fans can commence?" Fans definitely wanted Steve to spill the tea!

Clayton Echard is intimate with two women this season

Since everyone on "The Bachelor" is an adult and everyone is also in competition with everyone else to win, it's not surprising that some of the contestants have intimate relationships with the object of their affection. While working against one another to be deemed the best is definitely the name of the game, people are also really falling in love on the show ⁠— or at least they think they are.

Reality Steve shared photos of two women, Rachel Recchia and Sarah Hamrick, in December 2021 alongside a revelation: Clayton Echard admitted that he was intimate with each woman. As shown in the season's trailer, there's a moment this season during which Echard confesses to two women he was intimate with each of them, explaining, "I was in love with her and I am in love with each of you, and I also was intimate with both of you."

According to Reality Steve, Hamrick was sent home, which meant that the final two choices reportedly come down to Recchia and Susie Evans. It's presently unclear if Echard might have had an intimate relationship with Evans, if he's had one at all.

This is reportedly the villain on Clayton Echard's season of The Bachelor

Of course, "The Bachelor" wouldn't be the show it is without someone being cast as the ultimate bad guy. Each season of the show has its own villain, and this season there is definitely one woman who is being identified as such. Reality Steve was the first to pin contestant Shanae Ankney as the villain this time around.

However, Reality Steve was quick to add that he couldn't reveal exactly why Ankney, a 29-year-old recruiter from Sycomore, Ohio, causes problems on this season of the show. He noted, "Why Shanae is the villain and the things she did will be shared later. Lets just say there are a few who emailed me pre-filming that won't be surprised by this news." He added, "This isn't hate. This isn't 'go attack Shanae' now. Every season has a villain. She's this [season's]."

Clayton Echard admits he made mistakes on The Bachelor

Just about any form of reality television comes with struggles and problems, and "The Bachelor" is certainly not an exception to this rule. Clayton Echard seems to be the first to admit that he made more than his fair share of mistakes while filming the show, including but not limited to that he told three women he loved them and that he was intimate with two women on the show.

"I can't say that I have any regrets because if I would've done things differently, would it have been my 100% authentic journey? And I think the answer to that's no," Echard shared in an interview with Us Weekly published in late December 2021. "So what I did and every moment while I was there was what I thought was right. Does that mean it was right? Probably not, no. I mean, I definitely was not perfect."