Michelle Young’s connection with Joe Coleman rubbed some of the men the wrong way on the Oct. 26 episode of The Bachelorette. Michelle and Joe both grew up playing basketball in Minnesota, and prior to coming on the show, they had even talked via direct message about basketball. However, Joe ghosted Michelle at the time, so when he came on The Bachelorette, she was unsure about whether or not he was there for the right reasons. She gave him the last rose at the first rose ceremony, and definitely didn’t seem to regret the decision on his group date this week.
The group date conveniently involved basketball, which gave Joe a chance to shine — especially in Michelle’s eyes. “He looked like he was at home and that’s something that’s very familiar to me,” Michelle gushed. “I think that’s why there’s kind of a certain level of comfort with Joe, just because basketball was such a huge part of my life. Going to the gym every single day for hours…that’s what I did. Life was basketball. Not only does he get that basketball life, he gets that Minnesota basketball life.”
Joe’s team lost the basketball group date, but Michelle named him MVP of the game, so he still got to attend the after-party with the winners. At the after-party, Michelle and Joe got to spend more one-on-one time together, and it solidified their connection even further in Michelle’s mind. “I’ve never had chemistry with somebody off the charts this quickly that I was so into getting to know and attracted to,” she admitted. “I can see him being my teammate and today I felt like he was my teammate.” Joe also revealed that he could “see [himself] falling for” Michelle.
Some of the other men were worried about how much alone time that Joe was getting with Michelle. Then, Michelle gave Joe the group date rose, which led to some more tension. One person who was very bothered by the Joe and Michelle connection was Jamie Skaar, who went on a one-on-one date with Michelle and got a rose earlier in the episode. He was particularly upset after hearing that Michelle and Joe may have known each other before filming the show.
“Personally it’s something that bothers me,” he said during the cocktail party. “It’s the sort of thing like…DO you guys know each other? Are we starting from the same spot? That’s the real issue.” In a confessional, he added, “This does seem odd. This does seem suspicious. I spent time with Michelle on our one-on-one and there is a connection. So if it’s true, tell me. Don’t keep that from me.” Jamie wanted to make sure Michelle was being “authentic” with him like she asked the guys to be with her, so he confronted her about the situation.
However, when he brought it to Michelle, he put the blame on the other men. “There’s been a whole bunch of talk today about this feeling that maybe you might’ve known Joe before. For me, personally, I don’t really care because I feel like whatever happened before getting here has nothing to do with me,” he claimed. “But everybody else keeps fueling it. This entire journey is about authenticity and trust — that’s the standard that’s been set. I think there’s people out there questioning that.” He didn’t say that he was the one who was really questioning it, though.
Jamie also told Michelle that one of his friends ran into her at a bar before she came to film the show, and someone who he was with at the time alleged that Michelle was already dating someone. “The response was, ‘Well, that’s interested, because she’s already booed up. She’s been with a tall, light-skinned baller,'” Jamie explained. The description fit Joe perfectly. Michelle was “blindsided” by the information Jamie shared, and she was worried about which of the men might be doubting her. She had no idea who to trust anymore.
Finally, she confronted the group about it. Michelle explained to the group that she never met Joe before the first night of filming and shared exactly what their history was — two DMs back and forth, several years back. As for the rumor that Michelle was dating someone before coming on the show, she said, “Being a woman of color in Minnesota, any time I’m with a man of color, we’re a couple. That’s what everyone sees it as. I can have a romantic dinner with a white guy in the restaurant and no one would say, ‘They’re a couple.’ But because it’s another black man, we’re supposed to be together and it’s frustrating.”
Michelle opened the room to questions, but when all of the men were silent, she excused herself. Once Michelle was gone, the confusion amongst the other guys was off the charts. “Someone blew it completely out of proportion and made it seem like the whole house was talking about it,” Nayte Olukoya said. “I don’t know who that person was, and I’ll let them save face, but just letting you know, you’re selfish.”