Mike Johnson is speaking out about ABC’s decision to cast Matt James as the first black Bachelor.
The 32-year-old Air Force veteran and Texas native competed for Hannah Brown’s heart on last season of “The Bachelorette” and became a fan favorite in the process, leaving many — including the franchise’s first black lead, Rachel Lindsay — to root for him to be chosen as the next Bachelor.
But Johnson had nothing but good things to say about James on Friday, telling fans, “don’t feel bad for me at all.”
“I just want to give a huge shout out to Matt James as the new Bachelor, congrats bruh,” Johnson said in an Instagram video Friday.
“I want to give a huge shoutout to ABC. They listened to us. I’m giving you guys a shoutout, the fans. Love you guys so much. They listened to you guys,” he continued. “You guys marched in, sent all these emails… give yourself a pat on the back. Seriously, that’s amazing.”
“Don’t feel bad for me at all. I am just so elated. I have so many things coming down the pipeline,” he added, plugging the book he has coming out in the fall.
“Just quite honestly, be happy, baby. Don’t say nothing bad about my homie. Matt’s gonna do a great job… we got a black lead which is an amazing thing.”
Watch his full statement in the Instagram video below.
Last season, ABC chose Peter Weber, the second runner up on Brown’s season, instead of Johnson.
James’ casting comes amid global protests for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police.
But “The Bachelor” franchise has long been criticized for its lack of diversity in casting. Before James, Lindsay was the only other black lead in the history of the franchise.
The former “Bachelorette” has spoken up about the issue more than once in years past, but has been particularly vocal about the franchise’s “systemic racism” in recent weeks, having vowed on Saturday to quit the franchise if it didn’t solve its diversity problems. Her call was followed by an online petition demanding ABC to cast its first black Bachelor.
ABC has obliged — but the network claims that the choice was already in the pipeline before Lindsay’s statements.
“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” Robert Mills, head of alternative programming at ABC, told Variety.
However, Lindsay has seen there may be another reason why Johnson wasn’t cast that ABC just isn’t telling us.
But in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Lindsay said she had been told that ABC had a specific “reason” why they hadn’t chosen him.
“I was told there was a reason. What that reason may be, I don’t know,” she said. “I wasn’t given a specific answer.”
“Maybe they can’t specifically tell me why they didn’t choose him,” she continued. “And I think if they could tell us, they would, because it just looks so bad that they didn’t pick him… I mean, Michael Johnson was a gift. To me, it was an easy decision, but I’m not in the decision room.”
For everything you need to know about Matt James, go here.