Chris Harrison is "excited to start a new chapter" after his exit from The Bachelor franchise following a reported eight-figure settlement with the ABC show's producer Warner Horizon. The longtime dating show host, who stepped back from his role in February following racially insensitive comments, broke his silence Tuesday on Instagram hours after he was confirmed to be permanently exiting the show.
"I've had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I'm excited to start a new chapter," he wrote on social media alongside a photo from his tenure on the show. "I'm so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we've made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I've made will last a lifetime."
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Former Bachelors Sean Lowe, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Jason Mesnick were some of the Bachelor Nation members to weigh in in the comments. "It will never be the same. Love you buddy," Lowe wrote, as Luyendyk Jr. added, "Love you brotha. On to bigger and better things." Mesnick chimed in, "Congrats on the run buddy. The general public doesn't have any idea how much you helped us cast members deal with the behind the scenes of the TV world. Looking forward to seeing you soon."
Deadline confirmed Harrison's exit from The Bachelor franchise with a joint statement from Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment. "Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise," the companies said. "We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey." Harrison had been the face of the successful reality franchise since 2002 but departed the show amid controversy over statements he made in an interview defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for attending an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal.
"To my Bachelor Nation family -- I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology," Harrison wrote in an apology statement amid calls for his firing. "I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed." He continued that he wanted to "simply to ask for grace" for Kirkconnell, but realized he had instead caused harm by "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism." He closed the lengthy statement simply, "I promise to do better."