If you’ve ever wondered just how much control producers have over the results of “THE Bachelor,” you may want to sit down — because Season 23 star Colton Underwood is spilling the tea.
In an interview with “This American Life,” Underwood revealed the real reason he jumped that famous fence, and how trying to outsmart the “Bachelor” producers nearly cost him the woman of his dreams.
It all started at the beginning of his season, when producers asked him to rank the 20 contestants based on who he liked the most.
“They always asked to rank the girls,” Underwood said. “And very early on, Hannah [Godwin] was up there. And she got left off of a date.”
It’s important to note, as “This American Life” producer Emanuele Berry did, that Underwood is still friends with the producers.
ABC and reps for “The Bachelor” did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Tuesday, but Underwood says that moment tipped him off to the idea that who he spent his time on the show with wasn’t entirely up to him.
“I sort of remember feeling a little burnt when they did that. I was like, so let me get this straight. Hannah’s number one on my list right now, and she’s not getting a date this week. So from there on out, I was like, all right, if you’re going to do that to my top girls, I’m not really going to tell you who my top girls are. Because I don’t want you messing with them. So in a weird way, I tried to defend myself and defend the girls by not being truthful to them who my top was,” he said.
And so, for the rest of the season, Underwood continued to rank Hannah Godwin as his favorite, despite having stronger feelings for Cassie Randolph.
“I just kept the top the same. So Hannah was always at the top of the list when I always made the list for them to see, and I never changed it.”
What he didn’t consider, however, was that he was leading the producers to make decisions for him about who his end game was going to be. Underwood says the producers’ flew Cassie’s father to Portugal without telling him in order to facilitate her elimination.
“Her dad actually shows up, which nobody just accidentally shows up in Portugal,” Underwood said. “So the producers paid a pretty hefty price to fly that man on out to Portugal to come visit and spend time with his daughter to give her clarity.”
Next thing he knew, Cassie was breaking up with him over dinner.
“Normally, during the dinners and during that, the producers are sort of hovering, or they’re around to help the conversation flow. Or they’re there just to, like, bounce ideas off of when you guys are talking. When we had that dinner, there wasn’t a producer in sight. There was just the cameras, and there was just the audios. Everybody else ran. And they didn’t want to be near it because I think they knew that I knew,” he said, referring to his knowledge that the producers were behind Cassie’s exit.
And that was when everything came to a screeching halt for Underwood.
“Oh, I was thinking I just got screwed. I was thinking that that wasn’t her doing,” he says. “I was like, OK. So I don’t have the control I thought I had. If I feel like my relationship’s going to be messed with or toyed with at all, I’m going to be done. Especially at this point, I’ve completely fallen in love. I’ve completely, like, gave myself all to her. I mean, I had nothing to lose at that point besides the girl and the woman that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”
And so, out of sheer frustration, he jumped the fence and ran off into the night.
His trick had “backfired,” he says, “because then they were like, whoa, we thought it was Hannah because you kept telling us even on your list, when you’d rank them, Hannah’s one.”
After escaping the cameras for “a good two hours” and contemplating paying his own way home to leave the show, he says, he turned himself in to the producers. To gather his thoughts in peace, he requested to speak with the show’s therapist — a move that ensures no cameras will be on him for a brief period — and that’s when he hatched his plan to get Cassie back.
We know how it ends. He broke up with the other frontrunners, Hannah and Tayshia, convinced the producers to let him talk to Cassie, and he pulled the ultimate checkmate — breaking “Bachelor” format, forgoing the final rose ceremony and the engagement.
As of now, the couple are still together. And despite a near catastrophe, Underwood came out the winner — just not the way anyone expected.