The Bachelor Season 26: When Does It Premiere? Is Clayton Echard Really on Board?!?

Finally.

Finally, we have confirmation of two rather important details related to The Bachelor Season 26.

We know when it will prremiere.

And we know who will be searching for his soulmate.

First, the network has announced that this beloved franchise will return with new episodes on Monday, Januay 3 at 8/7c.

Second, despite ABC still refusing to comment on the extremely strong rumor, we’re more confident than ever before in reporting that Clayton Echard will be featured as the series lead.

How come?

Because upcoming host Jesse Palmer — who will take over for Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe; who took over themselves for Chris Harrison — has posted the following photo on Instagram.

It depicts Palmer and Echard and it includes the hashtag #TheBachelor.

Echard is currently competing for the affection of Michelle Young, but a recent spate of The Bachelorette spoilers revealed that Clayton won’t even advance to Young’s final four.

As a result, there’s been some controversy over his selection.

Why did producers go with Clayton Echard if he doesn’t even advance especially far on The Bachelorette?

Some observers can’t help but wonder whether it’s because Echard is white, considering all the men who will go on hometown dates with Young are persons of color.

Might this explain why ABC has not yet issued any kind of statement about Echard as The Bachelor?

Could we see a last-minute change?

We can’t rule anything out at this point.

Looking ahead, meanwhile, we’ve been hearing that ABC may air a second season of The Bachelor in 2022 — just like it is doing with The Bachelorette in 2021.

We’re even hearing that Blake Moynes may star as the lead of Season 27.

The veteran cast member appeared on The Bachelorette opposite both Adams and Katie Thurston.

He and Thurston just split up a few days ago.

Said the now-former couple in a statement at the time:

“We are so grateful for the moments we shared together and the entire journey that has unfolded this year.

“But we ultimately have concluded that we are not compatible as life partners, and it is the most caring choice for both of us to move forward independently.”

Season 18 of The Bachelorette airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, while season 26 of The Bachelor premieres January 3 at 8 p.m. ET.

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