It's official! 38-year-old 'Bachelor' alum Clare Crawley is the next 'Bachelorette' star
"The Bachelorette" is mixing things up with its newest star, in more ways than one.
For fans of the "Bachelor" franchise, some of the best news of the year came a little early Monday morning when franchise alum Clare Crawley, 38, was announced on "Good Morning America" as season 16's leading lady. This will be Crawley's fifth appearance in "Bachelor" nation.
Appearing Monday morning on "GMA," Crawley revealed the news came suddenly to her: She only found out Saturday.
"So unexpected, can you believe this?" she said. "I cannot believe it."
Not only is the newest star not from the current season of "The Bachelor," as she often is, Crawley marks a significant increase in age for the franchise's leads as of late: The last three stars — Colton Underwood, Hannah Brown and Peter Weber— have been 26, 24 and 28 respectively during filming.
"Babies. I feel like I could be their mom almost," she joked. "A lot of people put (age) out there as a negative thing, but for me it just is more years under my belt, more learning and knowing what I want, what I don't want and what I won't settle for."
What kind of man will Crawley be searching for this season? She said she doesn't really have a type and she's fine with dating men younger than her. She's actually more concerned about younger contestants having a problem with dating an older woman.
"For me the most important thing is I want a man that will take off his armor. I want a man who is strong, but is willing to take off the body armor, open himself up and be vulnerable. I think that is some serious strength right there. So I want a man who can do that... I have been known to date younger guys, so that's not a problem for me... I feel so much younger at heart than my actual age. I'm proud of my age, but I just feel younger."
She added: "The biggest thing for me is, honestly, it's all what's on the inside. I don't care (about) the outside. If you lined up the guys I've dated in the past, There's no one thing I look for physically. It's more if they go out of their way for me, if they make me feel special. Because this is about me now. And I'm ready for it."
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Fans first met Crawley in 2014 as the runner-up in Juan Pablo Galavis' season of "The Bachelor." After confessing her love to Galavis, the controversial star turned her down and Crawley delivered a memorable goodbye.
"I saved this moment for the man of my dreams, "she told him. "I thought that was you I thought I knew what kind of man you were. ... I've lost respect for you. I'll tell you what. I thought I knew what kind of man you were. What you just made me go through — I would never want my children having a father like you."
Speaking Monday, Crawley acknowledged "that side of me that stood up to Juan Pablo and was like 'Don't mess with me.' I am that strong woman still, but even more so was added to that is taking off that armor and saying 'I'm strong enough to let somebody in to be vulnerable and open up share that with them.'"
Crawley next appeared on Seasons 1 and 2 of "Bachelor in Paradise" in 2014 and 2015.
She then found love in 2018 on "The Bachelor Winter Games," a spinoff tied to the Olympics, in which contestants from "Bachelor" franchises all over the world came together. Crawley and Canadian contestant Benoit Beauséjour-Savard ended their time on the show on less-than-stellar terms, but reconnected after filming ended and got engaged during the show's "World Tell All" reunion special. The couple announced they were splitting two months after the special aired.
Last season's "Bachelorette" star, Hannah Brown, was revealed during the finale of "The Bachelor." Crawley's announcement comes a week before the current season of "Bachelor" wraps. Bachelor Nation watched fan favorite Brown search for love in an emotional journey that ended in heartbreak.
Brown opened up to USA TODAY about her topsy-turvy time on the show in July 2019.
Brown said she doesn't regret what happened during her finale. To recap: She dumped Tyler Cameron; got engaged to Jed Wyatt; found out the truth about Wyatt's rumored romantic escapades and confirmed on live TV that she and Wyatt are no longer together.
Still, "I'm really proud of my journey and how I ended that journey last night," she said.
Though Brown's season didn't end with a happy proposal, she said she wants people to remember her time on "The Bachelorette" as authentic and real. She said she experienced "real emotions" and there were "real conversations that needed to be had." And she's looking forward to using her platform to do good and be a role model to other women.
Peter Weber, who was a contestant on Brown's season, became "The Bachelor" in the series' companion franchise for Season 24, which is currently airing.
Contributing: David Oliver