Jesse Palmer Debates Bringing Back ‘Bachelor’ Spies, Reveals When He Last Spoke to Ex Jessica

“I had a lot of explaining to do back in the New York Giants locker room that year.” Nearly two decades before he was tasked with helping Clayton Echard find love, Jesse Palmer was the one handing out the roses.

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“I do regret forgetting somebody’s name,” Palmer, now 43, said on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast about his time as the lead. “That was the first [piece of] advice I gave Clayton, by the way, [was] do not forget anybody’s name. Having been there myself, I can tell you nothing good comes of that. Just lock in. And he’s done a really, really good job of that.”

From 'Spies' to Ex Jessica: Jesse Palmer Reflects on Being the Bachelor
Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin. Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/Shutterstock; James Yee/AP/Shutterstock

Overall, the former quarterback has no real regrets about his time as the lead. “I had an unbelievable experience. In 2004, this whole reality TV thing was so new,” he said. “And the show was so young. And I think in a lot of ways that the show was still kind of figuring itself out, what was it gonna become? It was obviously a huge risk to kind of step out of my comfort zone [as] a football player — to really sort of bear yourself and look for love and do it on television at the time was really sort of unique.”

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Palmer noted that he “learned so much about myself” while filming season 5 of The Bachelor.

“I really just sort of went for it and I’m happy — an awful football analogy — [but] I left it all in the field and it helped me later in my life [with] dating as I grew up and I got more mature until finally meeting my wife, Emely,” he explained, referring to spouse Emely Fardo, whom he married in 2020. “Learning to be vulnerable and opening up and learning to communicate and admitting when my feelings were hurt and talking about how I felt, really brought me a long way. It’s opened up more doors than I ever could have imagined personally, professionally. And I’m really, really happy and very, very fortunate that I was given that opportunity to do that back in 2004.”

Bachelor Nation may recall Palmer gave his final rose to Jessica Bowlin, opting not to propose. Their relationship ended shortly after the show aired.

“It’s been a minute,” he told Us when asked when the last time he spoke to Bowlin was. He then joked: “Plus, I have a Brazilian wife now and we have knives in our house. So I do have to be careful, you know, whose DMs I’m opening and who I’m talking with. I’m very, very careful. I’d like to think I’m smart.”

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Season 5 also marked the first (and last) time the show enlisted a “spy” — one of Palmer’s friend’s wives — to live in the house with the girls.

“I kinda have to say I’d be totally for [the show bringing that twist back],” he told Us. “It’s funny. There were a lot of firsts on my season. This was sort of the whole point of The Bachelor finding itself — [I was the] first Bachelor to give a first impression rose, first Bachelor to have a spy, first Bachelor to have a woman leave the show and then come back. There was a lot going on. I, like a lot of Bachelors, we have this ingrained insecurity of who’s there for the right reasons or who’s trying to use this as a platform. I felt like the spy was good for me and I was lucky to have my best friend’s wife be down to doing it. And it really, really helped me. It hasn’t been done since [so] maybe it’s been long enough now that if one did get planted, maybe the other woman in the house wouldn’t suspect it.”

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

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