“The Bachelor” star Matt James broke up with Rachael Kirkconnell, winner of the show.
In “After the Final Rose” special, Matt James revealed he had ended his relationship with Rachael after being implicated in a racist scandal.
A TikTok user accused Rachael of bullying her for dating Black men. Rachael was blamed by another user for liking racist photos online.
When old photos resurfaced of Kirkconnell at an old-South, Antebellum-themed college party, things really reached a boiling point. It was “devastating and heartbreaking” for James to learn of her past behaviors, although he initially brushed them off after seeing the photos.
Matt said in an interview, “You wanna believe that you know your person better than anybody else knows your person, and while all this controversy’s swirling around, who Rachael is, things that she might have attended, and pictures that she liked and people that she’s associated with.”
The 29-year-old, Matt mentioned, “Before Rachael addressed anything or Chris Harrison spoke on anything, I’m trying to be there for her, and I dismissed them as rumors because that’s what they were to me.”
The “Bachelor” star continued, “You hear things that are heartbreaking, and you just pray they’re not true. And then, when you find out that they are, it just makes you question everything.”
As a result of Kirkconnell’s behavior, presenter Chris Harrison had to temporarily leave the franchise. This followed him seemingly defending Kirkconnell’s actions in an interview with former cast member Rachel Lindsay.
Matt has struggled with moving past Rachael’s actions. However, he states that he has faced racism quite often growing up in the South.
As Rachael publicly apologized, the reality star was able to have a moment to reflect.
Matt explained in an interview, “It was in that moment and the conversation that I had that [I realized that] Rachael might not understand what it means to be Black in America.”
He expressed, “If you don’t understand that something like that is problematic in 2018, there’s a lot of me that you won’t understand. It’s as simple as that.”
Matt continued, “You know what was a long time ago? Plantations… I would ask those same people who are so triggered to bring that same energy to supporting folks of color who are asking for change.”
“I do not believe anyone to be irredeemable,” said the star, adding that he plans to see Kirkconnell carry on “the work that she is committed to do.”
The 24-year-old Rachael also addressed the breakup during the special.
She explained, “I was very blindsided, but once that initial reaction went away, I thought about how strong I thought our relationship was. So for him to end things, he must have been very, very hurt by everything.”
Rachael continued, “It was hard because I lost the love of my life, but in the process of that, I hurt him while doing so.”
“I love him so much, and I always will. I do feel like I finally do know what real love feels like”, she added.