Bachelor Matt James 'Wants His Regular Life Back,' Feels 'Toxic' Experience 'Has Been A Huge Mistake': Source
The first ever Black Bachelor, Matt James, has walked away from the franchise, wanting nothing to do with the show anymore, OK! has learned.
"Matt was contractually obliged to film the final show and make a few appearance on different programs following The Final Rose. But now that is done, Matt is ready to walk away from with the whole toxic experience," a source tells OK!. "Now he wishes he had never signed up to be the Bachelor. Matt never wanted to be the poster child for race relations or a social justice movement. He signed up to find love, not what is happening now."
Friends add that the 29-year-old wants to put the whole experience behind him and move on with his life.
"He doesn't want to be on Dancing With The Stars, or be known as 'The Black Bachelor' for the rest of his life," an insider reveals. "He just wants his regular life back. The whole experience has been a huge mistake."
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News of James' upset with the show comes after a controversial season for Bachelor Nation. As OK! previously reported, James left the finale with Rachael Kirkconnell — who was seen as the frontrunner from the start of season 25 — on his arm.
And as James explained on the After The Final Rose special on Monday, March 15, he and Kirkconnell's relationship immediately after the show was "like an extended honeymoon."
However, everything changed after racially charged photos of the brunette beauty made headlines in January.
The controversy began when a TikTok user accused James' winner of previously bullying her for dating a Black man. Then, another social media user accused her of "liking" a photo that contained a confederate flag. Adding fuel to the fire, a photo of Kirkconnell attending an Old South plantation-themed party when she was in college in 2018 resurfaced.
To make matters worse, Chris Harrison defended Kirkconnell and her insensitive photos while speaking with Extra co-host and former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the first Black lead in Bachelor history.
And while Kirkconnell apologized for her "ignorance" and said she is "learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist," James ruled that a reconciliation was out of the question for the two.
As OK! previously reported, James opened up about learning of Kirkconnell's photos as well as the former flames' breakup while speaking to Emmanuel Acho — who took over as host after Harrison temporarily stepped down amid the racism scandal — during the special, which took place immediately following the season 25 finale.
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"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," he said, referring to when he first learned of Kirkconnell's alleged photos.
James said he initially "dismissed" the accusations as "rumors," because that's what they were to him at the time. "You hear things that are heartbreaking, and you just pray they're not true," he candidly added. "And then, when you find out that they are it just makes you question everything."
Once Kirkconnell joined James and Acho on the stage, the Bachelor recounted the reality star couple's breakup conversation, calling it "tough" and "heartbreaking."
However, James emotionally told Kirkconnell, 24, that the "most difficult thing" for him was having to "explain to you why what I saw was problematic and why I was so upset... because when I'm in a relationship, it means that I'm committed to that person."
He explained that when he "questioned" their relationship after those photos resurfaced, "it was in the context of you not fully understanding my Blackness, and what it means to be a Black man in America, and what it would mean for our kids when I saw those things that were floating around the internet."
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James also said it "broke [his] heart" that he had to have that talk with his ex because he "didn't sign up to have this conversation."
After the finale and special aired, the handsome hunk took to Twitter and said he was looking for a therapist near him following the tumultuous past few months.