Is there a more famous "Bachelor" franchise loser than Nick Viall? Maybe the technical term is "runner-up," but it no longer matters. On Tuesday night, he landed the holy grail of reality TV: Nick, a 35-year-old former sales executive from Chicago, was officially named ABC's next "Bachelor."
The news was revealed on show creator Mike Fleiss's Twitter account just as Nick showed up on the "Bachelor in Paradise" spinoff after-show, co-hosted by former "Bachelor" Sean Lowe and comedian Michelle Collins. "Nobody saw this coming, nobody!" said Lowe, in quite the understatement.
The rumored front-runner to star in the next edition of ABC's long-running series was fan favorite Luke Pell, a 31-year-old war veteran from Texas who came in fourth place on the most recent season of "The Bachelorette." As soon as JoJo Fletcher sent him home in July, many viewers assumed they would just see him in January 2017 on the "The Bachelor" premiere.
The fact that producers chose Nick was a genuine surprise, not only because Nick is part of a fling on the current edition of "Bachelor in Paradise" (spoiler alert, guess things don't work out with Jen!) but because, as Lowe put it, Nick wasn't "the best-portrayed guy" on two seasons of "The Bachelorette."
It's true: During his first stint in summer 2014, Nick was very hurt when Andi Dorfman chose Josh Murray in the finale. And Nick became instantly infamous on the "After the Final Rose" special, where the runner-up confronts the woman who dumped him. In this case, Nick broke the unspoken rule that whatever happens between the show's "fantasy suites" stays in the fantasy suites.
"If you weren't in love with me, I'm just not sure why, like, why you made love with me," Nick said to Andi, causing waves of shock through the viewing audience. Andi was visibly upset, and afterward, Nick received tons of negative backlash. (He later admitted he could have been "more delicate" discussing their sex life on national television.)
The next year, Nick appeared on Kaitlyn Bristowe's season as a "surprise" contestant about halfway through the season. Their spark was so intense that she kept him around until the last episode, much to the chagrin of the other guys. Nonetheless, Kaitlyn chose Shawn Booth in the finale, and Nick was humiliatingly sent home again in second place.
However, that didn't stop him from making a third "Bachelor" stop this summer on "Bachelor in Paradise." Surprisingly? This summer's appearance has proved he can be a star of this franchise. Unlike his previous seasons, Nick has been charming, good-natured and pretty funny. Viewers really like the "Bachelor in Paradise" version of Nick:
Plus, people actually felt bad for him, as his nemesis Josh (who broke up with Andi shortly after the conclusion of their season) showed up in the early episodes and swooped in to hook up with a woman who Nick really liked. Josh proceeded to rub his new relationship in Nick's face, making Nick look like the more mature one, which is an incredibly difficult feat on "Bachelor in Paradise."
Anyway, if Nick can keep up his "Paradise" persona, there's a real chance that he could be an entertaining "Bachelor," something last season sorely lacked with the sweet but bland Ben Higgins. If anything, he has had lots of practice on the franchise and knows what producers are looking for.
"["Bachelor in Paradise"] is your redemption season," Collins told Nick on Tuesday on the after-show.
"It seems like everybody's rooting for you," Lowe added. "People genuinely want you to find love, and people think that you're sincere in your search for finding love too. I think that's why you have such a big fanbase now."
Nick admitted he's made some mistakes in the past. "I've had an interesting journey throughout this process, it hasn't worked out so far," he said. "Hopefully this time around, maybe things will end up on a more positive note."
(This post has been updated.)