‘The Bachelor’ Joey Graziadei Breaks Down His Reaction to Lea’s Card Twist: ‘My Biggest Fear’

The leading man also unpacks his first impression rose pick and why she “had a rough go” in the ABC show’s Season 28 premiere

The-Bachelor-Joey-Graziadei
Joey Graziadei on "The Bachelor" (Disney/John Fleenor)

Note: This story contains spoilers for “The Bachelor” Season 28, Episode 1.

As Joey Graziadei greeted the 32 women he would be courting on his season of “The Bachelor,” he faced the added pressure of dealing with a mystery card that he admitted was his “biggest fear” about leading the ABC reality series.

The card, which was given to Lea Cayanan during Charity Lawson’s “After the Final Rose,” was not to be opened until the 23-year-old contestant entered “Bachelor” mansion. While host Jesse Palmer teased the card would “change everything” at the start of the episode, Cayanan eventually learned it gave her the power to steal any one-on-one date up until hometowns.

“I’ll be honest, it was not a card I was excited to hear about — It was my biggest fear coming to fruition,” Graziadei told TheWrap ahead of the Season 28 premiere. “But at the same time, I was focused on her. She was obviously distraught [and] was having issues with it.”

As Cayanan confided in Graziadei about her feelings surrounding the twist, the tennis player said he made sure to be there for Cayanan and assure her he trusted “whatever decision she was going to make.”

After weighing out her reservations about using the card — including stealing time from another contestant, and taking away Graziadei’s agency to let his journey unfold how he preferred — Cayanan chose to ceremoniously reject its advantages by throwing it in a fire.

“I’m happy with the decision that she made, to try to have it be a process that was not controlled by her in any way,” Graziadei said. “That was her decision to make, and I just wanted to make sure she felt good about it.”

Graziadei was so impressed with how Cayanan dealt with the card that she even scored his first impression rose, saying “it was a very difficult situation.”

“I really tried to remember that Lea wasn’t just dealing with a tough hand on that night, but also everything from the ‘After the Final Rose’ of ‘The Bachelorette’ season,” Graziadei said. “She had a tough go, and that’s a lot to put on someone, and for me to still feel the grace [in how] she handled it, showing who she was [and] showing her character, I don’t know how else I could highlight that other than to give [her] that rose. She deserved that 100%.”

Graziadei also hit it off with Jess Edwards, who ruffled some feathers on Night 1 by stealing Graziadei away to chat for a second time, while most women only spoke with him once, if at all.

“It’s hard not to remember her being the only person that interrupted and came for a second time,” Graziadei said of Edwards. “I know that’s a big no-no in a lot of people’s eyes.”

While tensions rose between Edwards and the rest of the women, Graziadei said he paid little attention to “house dynamics,” as he focused on his first conversations with each of the women.

“I was really intrigued to see where the conversation would go after, [and] if it felt like it was hitting stops or if there was more to talk about and connect on,” Graziadei said of deepening his relationships moving forward. “My mindset was [seeing] how fluid and natural is the conversation after a very quick meet and greet on Night One.”

“The Bachelor” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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