'The Bachelor' Reveals Unexpected Choice for Season 26's Lead

There's a new Bachelor in town. Variety reported on Wednesday that Clayton Echard has been tapped to be the lead on the next season of The Bachelor. Even if you're a part of Bachelor Nation, Echard might be a bit unfamiliar to you. The reason? He is one of the contestants on Michelle Young's season of The Bachelorette, which will premiere on Oct. 19.

On Wednesday, photos emerged of who appears to be Echard filming a promo shoot for the upcoming season in Missouri. E! News reported that the 28-year-old is an orthopedic sales representative from Eureka, Missouri. Echard also has a past as a collegiate football player and was also a freestyle rapper for a spell. 

The ABC network and the studio behind The Bachelor both declined to comment on Variety's report, and it should be stressed that things could still change before any official announcement is made. It's not entirely surprising that they did not confirm the news about the next lead, especially since Echard hasn't even debuted on television yet. ABC will reportedly not confirm the news until sometime later on in the fall, likely after Young's Bachelorette season premieres. The Bachelor traditionally premieres in January. The production also typically begins in September, and it seems as though this was the case for the upcoming Season 26. 

This news will more than likely come as a surprise to Bachelor Nation. When it comes to the next season of The Bachelor, there has been much speculation that the next lead would come from Katie Thurston's Bachelorette season, which ended in early August. Fans have been speculating that the lead could be either Greg Grippo, Michael Allio, or Andrew Spencer, all of whom appeared on Thurston's season. There was also some speculation that the next lead might be fan-favorite Tyler Cameron, who appeared on Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette. But, it seems as though ABC has gone in a different direction.  

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Viewers will get their first look at the new, potential Bachelor when Young's season premieres on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Season 18 will feature over 30 contestants, including Echard, who will be vying for Young's heart. Based on the reports about the upcoming season of The Bachelor, it doesn't seem like Echard and Young's love story will have a happy ending. However, it looks like he'll be able to find love on his own terms on The Bachelor.