Gabby Windey (l) and Rachel Recchia will be on the...

Gabby Windey (l) and Rachel Recchia will be on the next edition of "The Bachelorette."   Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

In a first for the popular franchise, the 19th season of ABC's dating competition "The Bachelorette" will star not one but two single women who will winnow down a selection of men in hopes of finding a committed romantic partner.

On the traditional "After the Final Rose" special that immediately followed the season-26 finale of "The Bachelor" Tuesday night, host Jesse Palmer announced that the two "Bachelor" finalists, Rachel Recchia and Gabriela "Gabby" Windey, neither of whom was chosen by bachelor Clayton Echard, will jointly star in the next "Bachelorette" season premiering July 11.

"So how's this thing going to work?" asked host Palmer, 43, a former New York Giants quarterback and the season-5 "Bachelor" star. "I honestly have no idea. But," he told the two women, who sat side by side, "we're going to figure this whole thing out together."

"I am so happy for her!" exclaimed Recchia, 26, of Windey. "I truly am. It's crazy … I'm excited to do this journey with you. We did it once together and we've been through the most crazy experience together."

"I'm a girl's girl through and through," said University of Colorado Hospital nurse and former Denver Broncos cheerleader Windey, 31, "so having a friend by my side is the best thing that I could ask for."

The "Bachelor" season had ended with Echard, 28, a former medical-equipment sales representative, telling the final three women, which included 28-year-old Virginia Beach, Virginia, wedding videographer Susie Evans, that he was falling in love with all of them. When Evans pushed back and threatened to quit the show, Echard eliminated her. But he then told Recchia and Windey that he was choosing neither of them and intended to pursue Evans — resulting in angry on-air recriminations by the two final women.

Evans and Echard did begin a relationship between shooting the season and appearing on "After the Final Rose," they revealed on the special. "I didn't know what I wanted and I didn't know the capacity in which I wanted Clayton in my life," Evans explained to Palmer. "But we spent time apart after the show and we reset, we re-laid [a] foundation, and we're … happy to be here today."

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