Born in Eureka, Missouri, Clayton Echard played football at the University of Missouri from 2011 to 2015. After pursuing a career in the NFL with a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks, Echard was cast to appear on Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette in 2021. Before season 18 premiered that October, Us Weekly confirmed that ABC named Echard the season 26 Bachelor, with filming beginning in late September. Season 26 of The Bachelor is expected to premiere in January 2022. Following the March 2022 finale, Echard reconciled with contestant Susie Evans and planned to relocate to her native Virginia. The twosome announced their split in September 2022.