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‘The Bachelor’ Makes It Official – Clayton Echard Is the Next Leading Man

Season 26 of ABC’s hit dating series premieres Monday, Jan. 3

ABC made it official Tuesday night, Clayton Echard is the next lead of “The Bachelor.”

Clayton, who appears on the current season of “The Bachelorette” with Michelle Young, is a former pro football player and a Missouri native.

He made Michelle’s final eight before being sent home to start his search for love all over again.

ABC is betting on Clayton, 28, to make the ladies swoon on season 26 of the long-running dating series.

“This Midwestern man proves he is so much more than just a good-looking guy with a rock-hard bod,” the network said in a statement. “He’s a throwback romantic who’s not afraid to put himself out there for love.”

Clayton had been rumored to be the next Bachelor since September. The news was made official with the release of a first look at his upcoming season. Naturally, Clayton is shown shirtless several times in the video.

“I’m just a Midwest guy who wants to find love,” he says with confidence. “I believe more than anything that my future wife is here.”

There’s also bickering, sobbing, hugging and competition for Clayton’s attention in the video. Season 26 of “The Bachelor” premieres Monday, Jan. 3 at 8/7c.

Watch the first look at Clayton Echard as “The Bachelor” above.