As Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette winds down, Clayton Echard is ready to start handing out roses.
“I was looking for somebody that was funny, intelligent, driven, put forth effort and so I figured, ‘OK, that’s a good list and hopefully I’ll find that,’” the Missouri native said on Good Morning America in December after filming wrapped. “Well, what I found was very quickly the women blew my expectations out of the water. They brought all of that and so much more, so the expectations continued to rise, and I realized that, ultimately, I was going to find everything that I wanted and so much more.”
Clayton, 28, told Lara Spencer that he found “love” — and learned a lot.
“I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey, but I’m so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than I thought. Again, I’m just so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well,” the former football player explained. “There were so many things that I learned. I think the biggest one would be becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable, and stepping out of that comfort zone. It really challenged me to grow as an individual. It has been quite the journey.”
The sales representative competed for Michelle’s affections on season 18 of The Bachelorette earlier this year.
“With this process, I think just so many of the men challenge themselves to open up and Clayton was a guy who really challenges — truly challenges — himself,” Michelle said on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast in November. “And [he] is always in this constant state of reflection. He has a good head on his shoulders.”
In the trailer for the season, Clayton admits he’s in love with three women — and tells two of them at a rose ceremony that he slept with both of them.
“I just want you to know that what I am about to say is not going to be easy to hear. I want to be fully, fully transparent and I know it’s not easy to hear but I was intimate with both of you,” he says.
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The Bachelor premieres on ABC Monday, January 3, at 8 p.m. ET. Scroll through to meet the cast: