Chris Harrison's journey on The Bachelor has come to an end — and he finally broke his silence about his permanent exit following the racism scandal that marked the beginning of the end of his time in the franchise.
"I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter," the longtime host captioned the photo of himself on the After The Final Rose stage via Instagram. "I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together."
Harrison concluded: "While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime."
Former Bachelor alums were quick to praise Harrison and wish him the best on the next chapter of his life. "Love you my friend ❤️," JoJo Fletcher commented, while Arie Luyendyk wrote: "Love you brotha. On to bigger and better things 👏🏼."
"It will never be the same. Love you buddy," Sean Lowe added, as his wife, Catherine Giudici — who received the final rose on Lowe's season — wrote: "Love you @chrisbharrison ❤️ you have a lot to be proud about. Can’t wait to support you in your next endeavors :)"
And while many fans and Bachelor Nation members are sad to see him go — with some insisting that ratings will tank without the once-beloved host — others deemed the show's split from Harrison as the right decision.
OK! exclusively reported that producers were getting "clobbered" by fans and former contestants with requests for the permanent removal of Harrison after he failed to denounce Matt James' winning contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, for her past racially charged photos.
The photos in question showed Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party in 2018 and dressed as a Native American. She was also accused of "liking" photos with the Confederate flag in them. Her controversial social media activity was brought to light while season 25 was airing.
As if the photos didn't cause enough problems for The Bachelor franchise, Harrison's interview with Rachel Lindsay — the first Black lead in Bachelor history — left many appalled and infuriated, with people demanding a change to the franchise.
During their sit down, Harrison said Bachelor Nation should offer the 24-year-old contestant a "little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion," following her offensive social media posts. After his defensive attitude sparked widespread criticism, Harrison apologized for his commentary and announced he would temporarily be stepping back as host to get educated.
In light of the drama, Bachelor producers have been looking for a full-time replacement for Harrison. In the meantime, Emmanuel Acho took over as host for James' After The Final Rose special; former bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are also the hosts for season 17 of The Bachelorette.
In addition, David Spade was recently named one of the temporary hosts for the summer season of Bachelor in Paradise.
And while Harrison may be sad to be leaving the reality dating show behind, he is reportedly walking away with a whopping paycheck. Hours before Harrison shared his statement to Instagram on Tuesday, June 8, OK! reported that he was set to receive a huge payout if he agreed to step back from the franchise and keep quiet following his departure.