Ben Higgins proposed to flight attendant Lauren Bushnell on the Season 20 finale of ABC’s “The Bachelor” on Monday night, with runner-up Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher named the next star of “The Bachelorette.”
“Now that I’m out of that world and we’re together and looking at life from here on out, it’s a lot easier,” Higgins, who was 26 when the season shot, told People after the finale. Though having vowed to each of the final two that he was in love with her — an unprecedented occurrence on the show — Higgins assured the magazine that Bushnell “is the only woman I’ll love from now on.”
Bushnell, an Oregon native who lives in Marina del Rey, California, said she and Higgins would move to Denver, where he is a software salesman for Talisys, in suburban Golden, Colorado. “It made the most sense for me to move,” she told People. “And of course, Ben, being the sweetest guy, was like, ‘If you don’t like it, we can move!’ I’m more than excited. We’re starting a life together.”
She added she was relieved that after keeping the engagement secret since the finale was shot in November, “The love of my life is right next to me and I don’t have to hide it anymore.”
Fletcher, 25, told People that as the next “Bachelorette” she hopes to find “someone who makes me laugh, someone who is kind and genuine and adventurous.” Asked whether she would tell two contestants she was in love, the Dallas real estate professional replied, “I guess I’ll see when I get there. . . . I understand loving two people at once but I definitely will make sure that it’s exactly what I’m feeling before I say it. Because I know what it’s like to have that said to you and then to potentially be disappointed and let down. So I’ll be cautious of that.”
The selection of Fletcher came after ABC’s then-president Paul Lee told reporters in January, “I’d be very surprised if ‘The Bachelorette’ in the summer isn’t diverse. I think that’s likely.” While Fletcher’s mother is Middle Eastern, it was widely assumed that Caila Quinn — whose mother is Filipino and who identifies as “hapa,” a self-descriptive term used by many biracial Asian-Americans — was the choice after news outlets reported her filming a “Bachelorette” introduction in her hometown of Hudson, Ohio, on March 4.
She did not respond directly to reports of a late switch by producers. On Tuesday, Quinn, who was 24 during production, tweeted a photo of Bushnell and Fletcher, writing, “Congratulations to these beautiful girls! Sending love as the journey isn’t over, it’s only just beginning.”
The “Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise has starred only one member of an ethnic minority, Season 18 bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis.
Season 12 of “The Bachelorette” premieres May 23.