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Why ‘Bachelor’ Producers Chose Clayton Echard as Season 26 Lead: He ‘Stood Out Right Off the Bat’ (Exclusive)

Why Bachelor Producers Chose Clayton Echard as Lead
Courtesy of Clayton Echard/Instagram

The perfect fit! After meeting Clayton Echard during Michelle Young‘s season of The Bachelorette, it didn’t take long for the producers to realize that he was the right one to lead season 26 of the reality show.

Related: Meet the New Bachelor! 5 Things to Know About Season 26 Lead Clayton Echard

“Clayton stood out right off the bat,” a source exclusively tells Us Weekly of the 28-year-old Missouri native. “Producers ended up going with him because they believed he was the best fit for the role. They wanted to switch things up and go with someone new and someone who hasn’t been in the spotlight yet.”

On September 10, Us confirmed that the next Bachelor would be a man from season 18 of The Bachelorette. Five days later, the former football player was spotted filming the upcoming season. Shortly after the photos surfaced, an insider confirmed to Us that Clayton would be looking for love during the upcoming season.

“The mystery makes it more exciting for the prospective contestants,” the first source says. “The crew found out about it last minute. The decision wasn’t even made until about a week prior to filming his intro.”

Related: Michelle Young’s Potential ‘Bachelorette’ Contestants Revealed: Pics

Production on Michelle’s season of The Bachelorette wrapped earlier this month, led by hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe. Shortly after, Clayton soon began filming his intro videos in his hometown of Eureka.

“I’m excited,” the sales rep said in a video shared by St. Louis’ Fox affiliate on Thursday, September 16. “I’m also very, very nervous, and I’m looking to find my person.”

ABC and Warner Bros. have not yet confirmed Clayton’s casting, but the cameras were on location in the video, with a banner reading, “Go Find Love Clayton” hanging in the background. Mayor of Eureka Sean Flower claimed via the town’s Facebook page that the network bought the sign.

Related: Clare! Arie! Nick! All the Times ‘The Bachelor’ Shocked Fans With Its Lead

Before fans see Clayton’s search, they will watch the elementary school teacher, 28, searches for The One. “I’m looking for someone who’s gonna change the world with me,” Michelle said in the first teaser for the new season. “I’m ready.”

The Bachelorette premieres on ABC Tuesday, October 19, at 8 p.m. ET. The Bachelor is set to premiere in January 2022.

With reporting by Diana Cooper

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