Matt James is a newbie to The Bachelor world and the first lead for the franchise who didn’t previously appear as a contestant over a decade. So who is the 29-year old making history on the show?
James was already on Bachelor Nation’s radar at the beginning of 2020 because of his close relationship with fan favorite contestant, Tyler Cameron. But James was set to make his formal introduction to the television audience as one of the men competing for Clare Crawley’s heart on The Bachelorette.
When the pandemic forced a filming delay, James instead garnered attention as part of the “Quarantine Crew,” a group of friends that included Cameron and the former Bachelorette, Hannah Brown. The group made Tik Tok and Instagram videos together during the early lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matt James Runs a Nonprofit With Tyler Cameron
In May 2018, James founded ABC Food Tours, a nonprofit organization that leads New York City students on free tours of local restaurants to teach them about culture, taste, and nutrition. He spoke about the organization during an appearance on The Rachel Ray Show in December 2018.
“A lot of the kids that we work with haven’t had the opportunity to eat in restaurants, being invited into an establishment, and really have anything outside of that bodega food and a lot of processed foods,” James said on the show.
“The idea came from when I was leaving my favorite establishment in the lower east side, Bobwhite’s. I’ll go there, I’ll get fried chicken, mac and cheese — I’m a southern boy so that’s my comfort zone — and I run into some kids from P.S. 188 and they’re giving me a hard time about how high my shorts are, and we’re just going back and forth teasing. They told me they had never been to Bobwhite’s before… I’m like I have to get these kids in there. It’s right across the street, we have to get these kids in there.”
It didn’t take long for Cameron to get involved. He moved to New York City with James shortly after appearing on The Bachelorette in 2019 and now helps run the organization.
Matt James Also Works in Real Estate
During James’ time playing football at Wake Forest, he earned a degree in economics and worked brief stints with Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, among other companies. After graduating, he spent time in training camps with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, but made neither team’s final roster.
In October 2017, he began working for CBRE, a commercial real estate and investment firm. His profile on the CBRE website says that James “provides brokerage and transaction management services to a wide range of companies, from New York-based clients to global multimarket accounts.”
Between CBRE and ABC Food Tours, James has his hands full in New York. But the pay he got for The Bachelor — which was likely six figures — means he can afford to take some time away from work for a while.