Rachael Kirkconnell developed an early connection with Matt James on The Bachelor and was even brought to tears when he led the cast in a group prayer in episode one. But it didn’t take long for viewers to dig up some controversial information from Kirkconnell’s past.
A woman claiming to be a high school classmate of Kirkconnell — now 24 and a graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia — said on TikTok that it’s “ironic” Kirkconnell is competing for James’ heart when she claims Kirkconnell “ridiculed” her “for liking black guys” when they were in high school.
Shortly after the first episode of season 25 aired, the woman — Maddy Bierster, a local TV reporter in Florida — posted a video on TikTok on January 4 that showed Kirkconnell with a caption that read, “girlieeee, remember when you bullied me in high school for liking black guys???”
A day later, Bierster posted several more videos on TikTok to explain the accusation; however, she shared few details and said “this happened to me by her friend group in high school.” Bierster told Heavy that multiple women want to confirm her story, but don’t wish to come forward.
Kirkconnell hasn’t responded to the accusations, but a woman who appeared to be her friend defended her on Twitter. That woman later deleted her account after other users dug up racist tweets from the past, including several uses of racist slurs.
Heavy has reached out to both Kirkconnell and ABC for comment but has not yet received a reply.
Reddit Users Posted Screenshots of Kirkconnell’s Past Social Media Activity
Kirkconnell doesn’t appear to have an active Twitter account, and her Instagram account doesn’t have anything that raises controversy.
But viewers have pointed to some social media activity from Kirkconnell’s friends they say is problematic, including several posts that were liked by Kirkconnell.
In screenshots taken by Reddit users, Kirkconnell liked posts that showed two women posing in front of a Confederate flag as well as one with three women in ponchos and sombreros. Another screenshot showed a woman who appears to be Kirkconnell posing in a Native American-themed costume.
In February, a Reddit user posted photos of what appears to be Kirkconnell at what the user claims was an antebellum south plantation-themed ball in 2018.
Kirkconnell has been mostly quiet on social media since The Bachelor premiere aired and hasn’t addressed any of the brewing controversy surrounding her past.
Matt James Discussed the Pressures of Being the First Black ‘Bachelor’
Early in the first episode of The Bachelor, James sat down with host Chris Harrison to talk about the pressures he feels as the show’s first Black lead and how his biracial upbringing could be overlooked.
“You’ve got people who are cheering for you to end up with a specific person, a specific person of a specific race,” James said in the premiere. “That’s something that kept me up at night. It’s like, I don’t want to piss off Black people. I don’t want to piss off white people, but I’m both of those. You know what I mean? It’s like, how do I please everybody?”
Race was also the subject of discussion with multiple contestants during the premiere. When one contestant, Kristin Hopkins, asked James about his thoughts on being the first Black man to be The Bachelor he said he felt “a load of responsibility.”
A preview for the remainder of the season showed Kirkconnell and James having a conversation about race.
“I do acknowledge color in every sense,” Kirkconnell was shown saying. “I think that love is love, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.”