During After the Final Rose, Matt James seemed to close the door on the possibility of future romance with Rachael Kirkconnell. Yet, The Bachelor’s most recent winning couple is sparking rumors of a reconciliation.
Reality Steve first reported the reunion, tweeting, “It’s been a while but here’s some news: Matt and Rachael? Yeah, they’re not over. They’re currently in New York together. FYI.”
Soon after, the gossip Instagram account, Deux Moi, posted an anonymous tip that James and Kirkconnell were in the Williamsburg neighborhood of New York City. The tipper shared blurry photos they claimed were of the pair, writing, “We turned around to follow them and Matt [tapped] Rachael and pulled her back.. He was wearing sunglasses, a hat and mask.”
James and Kirkconnell met on season 25 of The Bachelor, which was filmed in the fall of 2020. The Georgia native received the final rose, though the pair did not leave engaged. However, their relationship ended before After the Final Rose as Kirkconnell faced backlash for racism and cultural appropriation.
She expressed her hope the couple would eventually reunite following the special.
“Of course i wish circumstances were different, but i still feel blessed for the time we did have together and the memories we made,” Kirkconnell wrote on Instagram. “i got to fall in love, and i truly believe he was the love of my life. he will always hold a piece of my heart. i’ll always be hopeful and believe what’s meant to be will be.”
Kirkconnell Expressed Regrets for Overshadowing James’ Historic Season
James made history as the dating franchise’s first Black Bachelor, with his group of contestants among the most diverse also. Yet, the season was marred by Kirkconnell and host Chris Harrison’s off-air controversies.
“This was supposed to be a monumental season, and one of the biggest disappointments has been the overshadowing of these beautiful women and their stories,” Kirkconnell wrote on Instagram after the season finale. She added, “at the least, i hope tonight sparks conversations and a level of understanding. i hope it opens your mind to unlearning bias, to educating yourself, and gives you the push to initiate change.”
She had previously apologized in an Instagram statement, after being criticized for her silence amid the backlash. Though, as James revealed on After the Final Rose, he had to explain to her “why what I saw was problematic and why I was so upset.”
Kirkconnell faced multiple accusations including racist bullying and cultural appropriation. The backlash came to a head when photos emerged of her at an “Old South” party. Harrison later faced his own backlash for “excusing historical racism” while defending Kirkconnell during an Extra interview which led him to apologize and step aside as host.
James Was Rumored to Be Dating Heather Martin
Former contestant Heather Martin appeared on The Bachelor after driving up to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in a white minivan hoping to connect with James. However, after crashing the cocktail party of a rose ceremony, she was sent home.
Following the season, Martin and James have been the subject of romance rumors.
The former contestant on Colton Underwood’s season of The Bachelor addressed the rumors on Ashley Iaconetti and Ben Higgins’ Almost Famous Podcast. She told the Bachelor Nation stars, “I’m not dating Matt. I think he has a lot going on in his life. You know, he’s going through a ton. I can’t even imagine…so many different aspects of the show, just everything. So, I think he has a lot going on right now. So, no, I’m not dating Matt.”