Colton Underwood was born in Indianapolis on January 26, 1992, and grew up in Washington, Illinois. After high school, he studied at Illinois State University, where he played football for the Illinois State Redbirds.
Between 2014 and 2016, Underwood was briefly a member of three NFL teams. The San Diego Chargers signed him as an undrafted free agent before he joined the practice squads for the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders. He ultimately retired after being released by the Raiders.
The former athlete’s reality TV career started when he competed for Becca Kufrin’s heart on The Bachelorette season 14 in 2018, a year after his split from Olympian Aly Raisman. That summer, he joined the cast of Bachelor in Paradise season 5, where he briefly rekindled his romance with his ex-girlfriend Tia Booth. Underwood was later named the lead of The Bachelor season 23, on which he became known as one of the few virgins to star on the ABC franchise. He quickly fell in love with Cassie Randolph, and though she broke up with him before their fantasy suite date, they ultimately reconciled in the finale. The twosome announced their split in May 2020.
Underwood is also the founder of the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation, which he started in 2016 in honor of his cousin Harper, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 4.
In April 2021, he came out as gay during a Good Morning America interview.