Rachael Kirkconnell, 24, made her first public appearance since the racism controversy that has changed the course of The Bachelor franchise forever. Rachael showed up to the After the Final Rose special in a one-shouldered red velvet dress. Her hair was sleek and straight. Rachael added a pop of color with light blue nails.
During the After the Final Rose special, Rachael sat down with the show’s host, Emmanuel Acho, to discuss the racism scandal she has been at the center of over the course of season 25. In February 2021, photos surfaced of Rachael attending an Antebellum-themed party during college. Before those photos were released, a TikTok user accused Rachael of being racially insensitive with past photos on social media.
“I don’t want to sit here and victimize myself,” Rachael said when she sat down with Emmanuel. When looking at a photo of herself at the Antebellum-themed party, Rachael said she was “living in this ignorance without even thinking about who it would be hurting.” Before Rachael’s interview, Matt confirmed with Emmanuel that he and Rachael were no longer together. She admitted she was “blindsided” by the breakup. “I love him so much, and I always will,” Rachael said.
Matt didn’t propose to Rachael during The Bachelor finale, but he did say that he wanted to spend his life with her. “I want to leave here with you, and I want to commit to you,” he told her. He admitted that he sees her as his “wife” and the “mother of my children.” This was taped before the racism scandal exploded.
The Bachelor host Chris Harrison attempted to defend Rachael during an Extra interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. The interview sparked intense backlash, and Chris has since stepped down from hosting the After the Final Rose special and the next season of The Bachelorette. Former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will be co-hosting.
Rachael did release a statement in the midst of the racism controversy. “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” she wrote on Instagram in February 2021. “My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.” Matt also released a statement and called the photos of Rachael at the Old South-themed party “incredibly disappointing.”