Newly-announced Bachelor Matt James is already a "record-setting" suitor. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, ABC executive Rob Mills revealed that Tyler Cameron's BFF has received a whopping 6,500 applicants for his season so far, despite the fact that we never got a chance to see him in action on Clare Crawley's postponed season of The Bachelorette.
"People love this guy. It's great," Mills told the radio host.
Matt, a real estate broker, became a fixture in Bachelor Nation due to his close friendship with Bachelorette runner up Tyler Cameron. His appearances on Tyler's socials, including the TikTok Quarantine Crew, has earned him a cult following of his own. It seems ABC attempted to slowly introduce him to the Bachelor community via Clare's season, but the pandemic — and the current Black Lives Matter movement — changed their plans.
"This really was a symptom of, we're going to have to shoot these seasons in essence back to back anyway, so Clare's season would not have even have aired when we started shooting The Bachelor so it just made more sense to announce him now to get people applying and ready," Mills explained.
However, his casting also came after a petition for The Bachelor to put in place practices to be more diverse reached over 80 thousand signatures. It is now at over 120 thousand. The petition included demands such as casting BIPOC for at least 35% of contestants, as well as casting a Black Bachelor for season 25. Matt is the franchise's first Black Bachelor, and only the second Black lead ever, following Rachel Lindsay.
"We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience," ABC said in a statement to the Today Show. "This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”
Matt's season of The Bachelor is expected to air in 2021, and with over 6,500 applicants, they should probably make it a really, really long one.