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Pictured: SERENE, CLAYTON ECHARD / Photo: ABC/John Fleenor

“You can really find love here, and I want to get down on one knee at the end of this.” – Clayton Echard.

The 26th season of ABC’s competition reality dating show “The Bachelor” opened with new ‘Bachelor Clayton Echard, plucked early from Michelle Young’s season, surprising his mom with the news that he was the next ‘Bachelor.

Clayton Echard is from the small town of Eureka in Missouri.  The opening of the episode also included locals celebrating Clayton’s announcement as ‘Bachelor.  Pretty impressive for a guy, as he said, who only got 8 minutes of screen time in “The Bachelorette.”  He said, “I truly believe in this process more than anyone else.”

On “The Bachelorette,” Clayton said he took a chance and went outside of his comfort zone and said he couldn’t believe he was having those genuine feelings.   “I really did feel that Michelle could be the one.”  Clayton was eliminated in Michelle’s season on week 6 when her students planned the dates.  After meeting Clayton, they took a liking to him and the students chose him for the one-on-one date.  In his exit off the show, two of her students wrote Clayton a touching letter.  During his exit, Clatyton said he wanted kids and a wife “more than anything else.”  His experience on “The Bachelorette” he said was “life changing.”

Some of the women that Clayton would be courting were featured in little sneak-peek vignettes.  The first was Shanae, who is also from a small town, Sycamore, Ohio with a population of 850 people.  She said she’s “very competitive” at getting what she wants whether it’s a man or a card game.

Gabby is 30-years-old and claimed to be “very goofy” and plans to seduce Clayton with her humor.  Gabby was a former NFL cheerleader, and is currently an ICU nurse.

Rachel, 29, is a flight instructor and flight student.  She spent six years in flight school and is now ready to find someone and get engaged.  Other women included 24-year-old Daria who is a law student and ready to start a family; Susie, a 28-year-old wedding photographer and former Miss USA pageant contestant; Elizabeth, a 32-year-old realtor from Denver, Colorado.

The last girl featured was Teddi, who is a 24-year-old registered nurse.  She said the only thing missing is finding her person.  She is a virgin, and made the decision to wait until she’s in love since she’s waited this long.  Teddi said she feels that Clayton might be the one.

Then, there was Salley!  Salley is 26-years-old from Greenville, South Carolina.  Her last relationship led to an engagement.  She said there was a lack of trust, and decided not to go through with it.  Ironically during her interview, was the day she was supposed to get married.   With that said, all the emotions started to hit

Salley and she said she just wanted to be with her family.  “I just want to be excited.  But, it’s hard to get in that mindset.”   While the other women were getting ready for the first Cocktail Party, Salley was emotional.  She decided to go talk to Clayton ahead of time.  She told him that she’s one of the 31 women he’s supposed to be meeting that night.

Salley told Clayton how she came there with an “open mind.”  But, when she got there, this weekend had been extremely hard” for her.  She told Clayton that part of her is being pulled home.  “I feel weird being here on the weekend of my wedding.”  It seemed as if Salley was looking for some sort of validation from Clayton, who was giving her none at first.   She told Clayton that part of her is being “pulled home.”  But, didn’t “want to come to that decision” until she met him.

Salley was a wreck, telling Clayton that she should be walking down the aisle, and thinks she’s not ready for “The Bachelor.”  Then, Clayton opened-up and talked about how he had a similar past experience. He thought he found his person.  When it didn’t work out, he said he “shut-down for years”   He then told her that he likes what he sees and thinks she’s special.  He told her that he wants her to be confident in being there.

Then, Clayton stepped-away for a few minutes.  Salley felt that there was definitely a connection.  Then, when Clayton returned, he told her that he feels that there’s chemistry.  Then, Clayton offered her a rose.

Clayton said he had “no doubt” in his mind in asking her to accept the rose.  Then, Salley asked to take a minute to think. Clayton said in his confessional that he was hoping that the rose would give Salley the confidence that she needs in order to stay.  Salley said she was “torn” because she was planning on going home.  When Salley returned, she told Clayton that although she wanted to accept the rose, her heart wasn’t in the place where she could. They hugged and Clayton walked her out.

Clayton was bummed that the first rose that he gave out was rejected.  He said he’s hoping that what he gives will be received back.  At the mansion, on the night of the womens’ arrivals, Clayton told Jesse about Salley and said he’s glad that it happened because it prepared him for the serious conversations.

Before the arrival of the women, Clayton chatted with the new host, who replaced long-time former host Chris Harrison, Jesse Palmer.  Jesse, also a former NFL football player,  himself was a former ‘Bachelor, but said this was his first time at “The Bachelor” mansion.  He and Clayton were both nervous because it was firsts for them both.  Clayton told Jesse about Salley and said it prepped him for what’s ahead and wants to keep “positive thoughts in his head.”

THE 30 WOMEN ARRIVE:

The first woman out of the first limo was 23-year-old Sarah, followed by Lyndsey W., who is 29-years-old from the South.  Some memorable entrances included Ency, who revealed that she is half Persian and half Korean.  She proceeded to tell Clayton a romantic message in Korean.  Susie introduced herself to Clayton with a hand-shake with a hand-buzzer that buzzed him.  Kate offered Clayton to hold on to her “nips” which turned out to be small bottles of alcohol which they both took shots out of.

Clayton stopped midway to go inside and tell the women that he could not stop smiling and told them not to leave!   Then he returned to his post in front of The Bachelor mansion.

Then Jane, 33-years-old,  rode up in a classic car, she said she is also “vintage’ and had been called a cougar.   The strange part was when Holly arrived, who is 63-years-old.  She told Clayton that she’s a mother of two,  and wants to have grandchildren.  She said she’s there for “the other Bachelor.”  The other Senior Bachelor.  But, really, she was there to introduce Rachel, who is 25-years-old.

Rachel explained to Clayton that since she’s a pilot, Holly was her “wing woman.”  After that, Ivana, 31, got out of the limo and flirted with Clayton without speaking.

Doctor, Kira, blew Clayton away when she got out of the limo wearing a bikini under her lab coat.  She told Clayton that she would give him a full body physical.  Nurse, Gabby, brought a pillow with a photo of Clayton and told him she just wants to sit on his face.  Other surprises were when Elizabeth came with a whip, and Hunter came carrying a python snake!

Pictured: SAMANTHA, CLAYTON ECHARD / Photo: ABC/John Fleenor

A nice surprise for Clayton was when Samantha rolled up in a tub with bubbles, wearing a bikini.  The women cheered at Samantha’s entrance into the house for her being so bold. Cassidy rode up on top of a toy truck. Followed by a big truck that hit the toy truck out of the way.  Shanae said she’s from a small town, she “obviously had to go big.”

No entrance got Clayton attention quite as much as Teddi’s, and it was without any props.  But, did include a chessey quote. Teddi told Clayton  that he’s “the big teddy bear” and hopefully, soon she’ll be his teddy bear.    Clayton was really in awe with Teddi and couldn’t stop staring at her.

After all 30 women arrived, Jesse asked Clayton is he thinks he met his wife tonight.  Clayton answered “yes.”  Then, he told Clayton to “have fun.”  Clayton said he does believe that his future wife is in the room.  “But, I need to find her first.”  Clayton talked to the group of women and told them that he is nervous.  “I’m going to be way over my head.  But, in the best way possible…I’m just a guy from a small town, Eureka, Missouri.  I’m so excited to be here.  So humble…we’re going to have a hell of a time here.”  He told them, “you can really find love here, and I want to get down on one knee at the end of this.”  He made a toast to stepping out of their comfort zone,” while spilling his drink.  He added, may they not lose sight of why they’re all there, “to find love.”

Susie was the first girl to talk to Clayton in private.  In her confessional, she said they are really different people.  Which is great, she said, because she needs someone who’s different from her.

Elizabeth brought Clayton an old photo from 1930 of her great grandfather that’s almost 100 year old photo.  She gave it to Clayton to hold on to. Because so many different things had to happen for them to meet, and it’s the same with Clayton.   She gave it to him to hold on to.

Teddi told Clayton that she was really nervous.  Her and her sister looked at all of Michelle’s men and Teddi chose Clayton, hoping that he would be the next Bachelor.”  So, she was pleasantly surprised when indeed, Clayton was chosen for the next ‘Bachelor.  Clayton told Teddi that there is definitely something there between him and Teddi. She agreed that there is a spark between them. Though Teddi stated in her confessional that she wasn’t going to kiss Clayton that night, her and Clayton ended-up kissing for a while.  The other women saw them and were jealous.   Clayton reacted to his kisses with Teddi,  “kissing Teddi was like being on Cloud 9,” and “it’s going so much better than expected.”

Then, Clayton made-out with Kira, the doctor, next.  Her line was “you have a heart.  Let’s see if we can make it beat faster.”

Jesse dropped-off the First Impression Rose.  Melina, 27, did a squat exercise with Clayton while they both wore moon shoes.  And Cassidy brought Clayton her snake.  Claire revealed that she’s a big football fan, but didn’t have the same favorite Team as Clayton.  She setup a mock tailgate party, and seemed like she was having too much to drink.  Then, another girl, Mara, swooped-in.

After Claire got interrupted by Mara who took Clayton away, she went inside to tell the women that “he’s 100% too nice for me.” She seemed to be a bit tipsy off of alcohol.   The other women were so shocked that Claire was talking down about Clayton.  Claire claimed to be “too fiery” for Clayton’s personality.  She was telling women that she “hates” Clayton.  When she was asked if she’s going to tell Clayton. Claire answered, “no.”  One girl mentioned that if Clayton isn’t your type, then there’s something wrong with you.  Then, Serene told Clayton that Claire was telling the women that she “hates him.”     So, Clayton went inside to pull Claire outside to talk in private.

Clayton confronted Claire that he heard that she hates him.  She said, no, “I feel that we haven’t clicked.  I think you’re a great guy.  I don’t  hate anybody.”  The rest of their conversation wasn’t aired.  Next thing we saw was Clayton walking back inside with Claire following as they walked past all the women to the front door which everyone could conclude that she left.

Clayton came back and made an announcement to the women.   said he was made aware that she was tearing the whole mood down and didn’t think it was fair to have someone there that didn’t want to be there.  He invited whoever else didn’t want to be there to “step-out and leave.”  All the women said “no.”  Then Clayton asked to talk to Genevieve next.

Genevieve revealed that her parents have been married for 32 years.   Clayton revealed that his parents are celebrating their 30th anniversary.  She said that she wants that too.  He told her that they’re going to “have a lot of fun I can tell.”

Pictured: TEDDI, CLAYTON ECHARD. Photo: ABC/John Fleenor

Clayton said there was someone “in particular that he was dying to talk to.”  It was the pilot Rachel because she was the next woman he sat-down with.  After they kissed Rachel was excited that Clayton could be her person.  Then disappointed when she didn’t get the First Impression Rose.   Clayton carried the First Impression Rose off into another room.   “This one particular person just stopped me in my tracks.”  He called Teddi.

The First Impression Rose was presented to Teddi.  Clayton told Teddi,  “the moment that you stepped out of the limo, I couldn’t get you out of my mind.  There was just a clear connection.”   He said kissing Teddi, he feels complete.

 

THE ROSE CEREMONY:

The sun was now coming-up and the Rose Ceremony was just getting started.  Clayton thanked the women for being there.  “It’s been a long night.  But, an eventful one…I truly believe that my future wife is in this room,” and he apologized to any women that he did not get a chance to talk to.

Pictured: SERENE, CLAYTON ECHARD / Photo: ABC/John Fleenor

Women who got Roses:  Serene, Susie, Eliza, Rachel, Ency, Sarah, Kate, Cassidy, Elizabeth, Kira, Shanae, Sierra, Mara, Marlena, Genevieve, Melina, Gabby, Jill, Lindsay W., Hunter, Tessa

Clayton was left with twenty-two women remaining.  He sent a total of nine women home.

 

 

 

 

 

*Teddi, 24  She told Claytong that he’s “the big teddy bear” and hopefully, soon she’ll be his teddy bear.    Clayton was really in awe with Teddi and couldn’t stop staring at her.

Kate 32, real estate agent.  She offered Clayton two of her “nips” which were tiny bottles of liqour an they took a shot.
Sierra (28) She joked that she’s his wife and she just got back from the futurMelina 27 is a personal trainer jumped in Clayton’s arms.  She wore “moon shoes.”Hailey 26 had Clayton onpen a jar of picklesJill 26 brought ashes of her ex-boyfriend.Marlena 30, Former Olympian.  She told Clayton he had a penalty on the field for “being so fine.”

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