Warning: SPOILERS for Season 25 of The Bachelor are ahead.
While viewers are promised that each edition of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is the most dramatic one yet, that actually might be the case for Matt James' run as the lead for Season 25 of The Bachelor.
Season 25 broke new ground for the franchise in a multitude of ways — Matt James was the first Black lead on The Bachelor, and the contestants included 25 women who identify as BIPOC.
Off the show, internet sleuths discovered that contestant Rachael Kirkconnell had attended an "Old South" antebellum-themed party in 2018, and that she had liked several posts that showcased racist clothing and instances of cultural appropriation.
Several people who claimed to be her former high school classmates also accused her of being a bully. She issued an apology for her actions on Instagram on Feb. 12.
While defending Rachael in an Extra interview with former Bachelorette lead Rachel Lindsay, host Chris Harrison asked viewers to have "compassion" for her actions, and he used the term "woke police."
After Chris issued one apology, a petition began circulating, calling for his termination from ABC. In his second apology, he announced that he would take a step back from the show to educate himself on being anti-racist.
Those who look up spoilers for the ending of each season of The Bachelor will likely have already learned that Matt is rumored to offer his final rose to Rachael Kirkconnell. Are the two still together, despite the recent controversy?
Matt James is rumored to pick Rachael Kirkconnell at the end of Season 25 of 'The Bachelor.'
Before Matt's season even premiered in January of 2021, the spoiler site Reality Steve reported that his final rose recipient was Rachael Kirkconnell.
Reality Steve also noted that Matt did not propose to the 24-year-old Georgia-based graphic designer, but that the two did leave the show together.
However, he did later state that there were rumors going around in Rachael's hometown of Cumming, Ga. that she did get engaged to Matt. It remains to be seen if the ABC Food Tours founder popped the question or not.
Originally, the reality TV extraordinaire claimed that production didn't want her making an apology statement earlier. Some have thought that this is an indication that Rachael and Matt are still dating.
Since the controversy surrounding Rachael's past began picking up steam online, many began to wonder if she and Matt had since parted ways.
Many were convinced that Matt spoiled the end of his season (and his current relationship status) on his Spotify account, of all places. On Jan. 17, someone from the Instagram account, @BachelorSleuths noticed that Matt was listening to a playlist called Night Drive. Though this could seem innocent enough at first glance, the playlist was created by none other than Rachael Kirkconnell herself.
Though Matt could be a good ex and simply just really enjoy Rachael's taste in music, combined with the spoilers from Reality Steve, many fans viewed this as confirmation about the rumored spoilers.
But, has anything changed in the weeks that followed?
Is Matt James still with Rachael Kirkconnell?
Several people anonymously sent conflicting tips in to the increasingly popular celebrity gossip Instagram account, Deuxmoi (which cannot be verified). One noted that Matt James was cozying up to other women at a party for Super Bowl LV, while another shared that wasn't true. A separate message stated that Rachael and Matt were very much still together.
Since then, Matt has issued his own statement. In an Instagram post, Matt discussed the pain he's felt at the racism prevalent in this season of The Bachelor and The Bachelor's overall history of failing BIPOC throughout the franchise.
"It is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison," Matt wrote.
"The reality is that I'm learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly," he continued.
In his post, Matt addressed how "this moment" has created a dialogue around how the franchise has "fallen short" on addressing the racism that exists within it.
"It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents ... I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end," he concluded.
Shortly after Matt's post went live, Reality Steve shared on Twitter, "Not that Matt’s statement wasn’t pretty clear itself, but I can confirm that Matt and Rachael have broken up."
Viewers will have to find out the truth when the After the Final Rose special airs following the Season 25 finale. At this time, it's also unknown who will be hosting the special, as Chris Harrison shared that he "will not join" it.
The Bachelor airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.