Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell are speaking out after he gave Kirkconnell the final rose on The Bachelor, but then broke up with her after her racially charged Instagram photos from 2018 were resurfaced, setting off a heated debate online and ultimately, resulting in Chris Harrison stepping down from his hosting duties. Harrison, fans will recall, came under fire for defending Kirkconnell.
On Tuesday, James appeared on Good Morning America to sort through his feelings, and how, in many ways, it reflected the struggles the entire country is grappling with. James said: “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt the weight of everything that I was carrying throughout the season and with what we were dealing with as a country, and having to explain that, why it was problematic to me and our relationship, which was extremely difficult.”
On After the Final Rose, James told Kirkconnell: “If you don’t understand that something like that is problematic in 2018, there’s a lot of me that you won’t understand. I stepped back and let her do the work she’s committed to doing.”
As for missing the opportunity to explore other relationships on the show, James stated, “The conversations that have come from everything that’s taken place are more important than anything I could’ve left with. And if that means that if I leave under the circumstances that I left with, then so be it.”
Following the After the Final Rose show, in which they revealed their split, she posted a message on Instagram saying that she “never expected this outcome” but had hope for the future.
“i knew from the first night i met matt that he was something special, and i was praying to share something exceptional between the two of us if that’s what was meant to be,” she wrote alongside a series of photos of her and the other contestants.
“while i never expected this outcome, i respect his decision completely. of course i wish circumstances were different, but i still feel blessed for the time we did have together and the memories we made.”