Some Bachelor fans are understandably confused — Luyendyk hasn't appeared on television in almost five years. He competed for Emily Maynard's heart on the eighth season of The Bachelorette all the way back in 2012. (He came in second; Utah native Jef Holm won the season.) Then, Luyendyk retreated to his regular racecar driving life, seemingly disinterested in reality television, though he show up in episodes of Hell's Kitchen and the Bachelor spinoff Bachelor Pad.
But now he's back.
The 35-year-old Dutch American appeared on Good Morning America Thursday morning to explain himself. He said that he and the show's producers had kept in touch throughout his television hiatus.
"We've kept in touch over the last few years, but this just fit perfect, the timing of this really fit," he told GMA host Michael Strahan. "I was a little skeptical, just because we've been in talks for a few years about doing it. But I just kind of went in with an open mind and an open heart, and it kind of just hit me right now that I'm here."
Allegedly, Luyendyk has been burned before. Sean Lowe said in a 2015 interview that producers wanted Luyendyk for the season 20 of The Bachelor. Production even went so far as to film an introductory sequence with Luyendyk before Warner Bros. interceded. According to Lowe, the network was concerned that Luyendyk hadn't been on television in a minute, and might not be recognizable to viewers. Season 20 instead featured Chris Soules, a farmer from Iowa, who was a runner-up on Andi Dorfman's season of The Bachelorette. Lowe and Luyendyk appeared on The Bachelorette together, and are to this day close friends.
Luyendyk said on GMA that he didn't tell his parents the news this time around; they found out when the rest of America found out.
"[My dad's] finding out right now," Luyendyk said. "So, 'Hi Dad, Mom.'"
He added, "I kept things really under wraps. Just because I didn't know how this would turn out. It's been such a quick turn of events, and my family doesn't now. So now, they know."
On season eight of The Bachelorette, Luyendyk earned the nickname "The Kissing Bandit" because he was especially good at sneaking kisses from Maynard. His legacy remains. There is a video on YouTube titled "How to kiss like Arie Luyendyk, Jr." Fans loved him because he was unpolished, a decent-seeming kisser, and had a job that wasn't "real estate mogul" or "personal trainer." Luyendyk's father, Arie Luyendyk Sr, is a celebrated racecar driver known as "The Flying Dutchman."
This announcement comes on the heels of what felt like Bachelor Nation panic. The Bachelor is usually the runner-up from the previous season of The Bachelorette. But Bachelor producer and creator Mike Fleiss indicated on Twitter that production didn't want Peter Kraus, Rachel Lindsay's runner-up, to take the role. Dean Unglert already rejected the title. Then, Wells Adams, another fan favorite, made it clear he didn't want to be the Bachelor, either.
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