The Bachelor didn’t have a rose for Chris Harrison after he defended Rachel Kirkconnell, a contestant on season 25, for attending an “Old South”/antebellum-themed party in college. However, the now-former host of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor In Paradise didn’t leave the franchise empty-handed. Chris, 49, received “roughly $10 million — a combination of a $9 million exit settlement, plus remaining contractual fees — upon leaving the job he held since 2002,” reports Variety. This contradicts previous reports that suggested Chris’s exit package was a “significant eight-figure payout.” HollywoodLife has reached out to Chris and The Bachelor for comment.
Harrison retained power attorney Bryan Freedman, who Variety noted represented Gabrielle Union in her drama with America’s Got Talent, and negotiated a “mega-million payout” for Megyn Kelly after she left NBC News, following her lackluster tenure on the network. Chris had hoped to return to the franchise. Still, mounting demands for his resignation and Variety reported that he wouldn’t host Bachelor In Paradise in the summer (only to be replaced by David Spade and a slew of celeb guest hosts) expedited his exit.
Chris, according to the new Variety report, “was not aware of how much attention his response was receiving, and did not realize just how problematic the television interview would become.” During the Feb. 9 episode of Extra, Chris spoke with former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay regarding resurfaced photos of Kirkconnell attending the plantation-themed party. “I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago, that’s it,” said Harrison. “My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party, and had a great time. They were 18 years old. Now, does that make it OK? I don’t know Rachel, you tell me. Where is this lens were holding up, and was that lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018? I don’t know.”
In the interview, Harrison said he was “not defending Rachael [Kirkconnell],” but said that her critics were acting like “judge, jury, [and] executioner…People are just tearing this girl’s life apart. It’s just unbelievably alarming to watch this.”
The backlash to Chris’s comments was swift. A few days after the interview aired, Chris issued an apology. “I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke…I set standards for myself, and have to meet them. I feel that with every fiber of my being,” he said in a statement posted online. “By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term ‘woke police,’ which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong. To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you.”
Two days after the apology, Chris announced he was “stepping aside” from the Bachelor franchise for an undisclosed time. A sit-down interview with Michael Strahan failed to quell the demands that he resign (“It felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this,” said Strahan), and Chris ultimately left the show for good.