Rachael Kirkconnell was born and raised in Georgia. She graduated from Georgia College & State University in 2019 and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor.
Following the January 2021 premiere of Matt James’ season, Kirkconnell came under fire when a TikTok user accused her of being racist in high school. She later made headlines when photos of her attending a plantation-themed college event resurfaced.
Bachelor Nation host Chris Harrison made waves himself in February 2021, after he chose not to speak out about Kirkconnell’s alleged racist actions before she could defend herself. He later apologized for his inaction following an explosive interview with Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. Kirkconnell, for her part, addressed the controversy via Instagram that same month,
“At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything,” she said in her public apology, as her love story with James continued to unfold onscreen. “They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”