Former “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison is reflecting on his exit from the long-running ABC reality show.
The TV personality was a staple on “The Bachelor” from the show’s start in 2002 until his alleged racist remarks forced him to resign from his position in June 2021. Harrison discussed the aftermath during a Monday episode of his new podcast, “The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever.”
“I lost 20 pounds. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat,” the 51-year-old TV star said of that time in his life. “It was just one gut-punch after the other, and mentally and physically I deteriorated pretty bad.”
Harrison was eviscerated for defending Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell when she was facing backlash for attending an Antebellum-themed party in her past.
“The picture was from 2018 at an Old South Antebellum party. That’s not a good look,” former contestant Rachel Lindsay told Harrison during an interview with “Extra” in February 2021.
“Is it [not] a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?” Harrison replied.
He said that the audience should “have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for Kirkconnell attending a party in 2018 when social etiquette was very different. But those opinions were enough to inspire calls for his firing and eventually led Harrison to resign and issue a formal apology. His reputation never recovered.
“I was heartbroken. I was gutted,” he explained on the podcast episode. “I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself. I was disappointed in myself. The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative — whether it had to do with race or anything.”
The former “Bachelor” host said people were following him around and parking outside his house for weeks after the remarks. “I would sneak down the hill of my house through my neighbor’s backyard and my buddy would pick me up,” Harrison recalled.
He also noted that his apology didn’t seem to make any difference in public perception.
“My name became synonymous with this political, lightning-in-a-bottle moment,” he said, noting how both left-learning and right-leaning individuals commented on the situation.
Harrison said his formal apology was “warranted,” yet ineffective.
“I had no problem putting out that first apology,” he said. “But there was just so much noise at the time, it just didn’t matter. Apologies didn’t matter.”
“Even after that apology, we were still at ground zero,” Harrison continued. “It was confusing and it was scary.”
While the longtime host said he hasn’t been tuning in to “The Bachelor” since his exit, he swears there are no hard feelings on his end.
“I will forever be grateful,” he says of his career-making hosting gig.