As fans prepare to watch Brandon Jones look for The One on Bachelor in Paradise, Us Weekly is breaking down what the Bachelorette season 18 runner-up has been up to since the finale — including how he was dragged into Nayte Olukoya and Michelle Young’s split.
The Minnesota teacher picked Nayte over Brandon during the December 2021 finale — after telling both finalists she loved them.
“In that moment, I was very open to both of those relationships. Those were feelings that I was feeling. Does that make it [a] little bit harder for Nayte to watch back? Yeah, it does,” Michelle admitted on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast at the time. “And that’s definitely where our communication piece comes in with having to navigate through that because it’s not an easy situation and it’s such a different situation and one that a lot of people can’t necessarily relate to. It was just that piece was truly just staying true to what I was feeling, which is what I promised when I accepted the role as a Bachelorette.”
Nayte noted at the time that he didn’t fault his then-fiancée for falling for both of them.
“When you’re in this environment, that’s literally something that can happen, and it did happen,” he said. “And I can feel however I felt about it, but at the end of the day, you kind of gotta just remind yourself like, ‘Hey, this environment, like, things happened, now that this is done, we’re back into the real world and that’s something that’s behind us now.’ It’s just her and I against the world. It can only bother you so much. I get to wake up next to Michelle [for] the rest of my life.”
It wasn’t long before Michelle and Nayte’s relationship fell apart, however. While the twosome officially ended their engagement in June, the former Texas resident later revealed that they started having issues as early as New Year’s Day.
“We just stopped clicking. … Communication broke down,” Nayte said on the “Viall Files” podcast earlier this month. “January 2 — I remember it like it was yesterday. It was like, ‘What’s going on right now?’ I fell in love with this woman, and then, like, I’m not saying that she changed into, like, this terrible person, but it just wasn’t the same really quick — after everything was said and done, after the engagement, after we started going into just the everyday motion of [our] lives and not a televised relationship, but, like, a real relationship. Things just started to shift. And I remember January 1 was our first really big fight. And then the very next day, it was another really big fight. And I was so freaked out.”
After ending things with Michelle over the phone, Nayte contacted Brandon to apologize for ruining his chances with the lead.
“He felt bad for me because he saw how I was with Michelle and worried that maybe he ruined that for me,” Brandon said on the “Talking It Out” podcast days before the Tuesday, September 27, premiere of BiP. “But I said no, that this is how life was supposed to work out. He was very apologetic. He wanted his relationship with Michelle to work so bad. He wanted it to work. They just didn’t.”
Brandon went on to tease that Paradise was “hands down the craziest thing I’ve ever gone through.”
“We were up for 20 hours a day and got no sleep,” he admitted. “I was there from day one, so bear with me! Emotions were high all the time. … Drama every single day, things popping off every day. I think everyone cried at least once.”
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Bachelor in Paradise airs on ABC Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET. Scroll through for more on Brandon’s status with Michelle and Nayte: