Clayton Echard Says He Sometimes Regrets Agreeing to Be the Bachelor: ‘I Just Wasn’t Ready’

Clayton Echard: There Are Moments When I Regret Becoming ‘The Bachelor’
Clayton Echard. Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Not always a fairy tale. Clayton Echard confessed that he regretted agreeing to become the Bachelor after seeing fans’ initial reaction to his season.

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“I think the first three weeks of the show airing, I definitely [regretted saying yes],” the former football player, 28, said during the Monday, February 14, episode of “The Viall Files” podcast. “You just don’t know what to expect going into it.”

Clayton had “no frame of reference” for what being the lead entailed after his early exit from Michelle Young‘s Bachelorette season, so he didn’t realize how intense the backlash could become.

“[For] the first three weeks, I thought, ‘This is going to be great. Everyone’s gonna come around. People are really going to start seeing my personality,’ and they just weren’t,” Clayton explained. “It seemed like no matter what they showed … [fans] are still just wanting to find something to be mad at me about.”

Clayton Echard: There Are Moments When I Regret Becoming ‘The Bachelor’
Clayton Echard. Michael Owen Baker/AP/Shutterstock

He continued: “I just wasn’t ready, I guess, for the magnitude of the criticism I was going to face.

One of the biggest critiques Clayton has received from Bachelor Nation viewers since season 26 premiered concerns his decision to keep controversial contestant Shanae Ankney amid her feud with Elizabeth Corrigan. While Shanae, 29, claimed that she was being bullied by the real estate agent, 32, many fans felt that the Ohio native crossed a line when she made fun of her fellow contestant’s ADHD.

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Clayton kept Shanae and eliminated Elizabeth during the January 31 episode, but he later claimed that he would have acted differently in hindsight.

“I would have sent Shanae home immediately for making fun of [Elizabeth] for being neurodivergent, had I known,” the University of Missouri alum wrote via Twitter on February 1. “Overall, the experience for me watching hasn’t been fun, simply because I’m seeing all the damage that I caused. I really meant well, but my actions weren’t always the best as I now can see the repercussions from my decisions.”

Though Elizabeth defended Clayton throughout the controversy, castoff Lyndsey Windham alleged that the former athlete did, in fact, know about what Shanae said behind closed doors. “I explained to him, word for word, that I would never want anyone to feel bullied. However, when someone is mocking and making fun of someone’s mental disabilities, that’s crossing the line,” the sales executive, 28, said in a TikTok video posted on February 7. “At the end of the day, everything happens for a reason and no hard feelings, however, you knew and you kept her.”

Clayton refuted Lyndsey’s claims during his appearance on “The Viall Files,” revealing that he was “frustrated” by the viral video. “To set the record straight: I’m not lying,” he said on Monday. “I do want to stress that, as I said in my post, I did not know that Shanae was mocking Elizabeth for having ADHD. I did not know that Elizabeth has ADHD until I watched the show.”

While he did acknowledge that it was possible Lyndsey brought her concerns to him during a group date, he doesn’t recall having the conversation. “It just didn’t resonate and I didn’t recognize the severity of the situation at the time,” Clayton admitted. “I had to go off of what I knew and what was being told to me, which truthfully, wasn’t as much as what people are seeing now.

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Following a dramatic two-on-one date with Genevieve Parisi during Monday’s episode of The Bachelor, Shanae was ultimately sent home.

The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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