Matt James on Leaving ‘The Bachelorette’ to Be The Bachelor 2020

Matt James and Clare Crawley

ABC Matt James and Clare Crawley are the leads of the upcoming seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

Matt James is set to star as the lead of season 25 of The Bachelor, but his path to that spot wasn’t a traditional one. In recent years, the lead of a Bachelor or Bachelorette season has been a former contestant who won over America’s heart. James is the first Bachelor since Matt Grant (the lead way back in season 12) who didn’t appear in a season of The Bachelorette.

James isn’t exactly a stranger to Bachelor Nation, though. He first introduced himself in 2019 as the best friend, roommate, and business partner of Bachelorette runner-up Tyler Cameron. Then in March 2020, he was announced as a cast member on Clare Crawley‘s season of The Bachelorette.

When the COVID-19 pandemic delayed filming of Crawley’s season, ABC producers decided a lead role on The Bachelor was a better spot for James.

“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said. “When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor.”

That decision came after a little bit of social media drama between Crawley and James, though.

Crawley Appeared to Call Out Matt James’ Social Media Activity

When COVID-19 lockdowns began in the spring, James garnered attention as a member of “The Quarantine Crew,” a group of friends temporarily living together in Florida. That group included Bachelor Nation alumni Hannah Brown and Tyler Cameron, and it created plenty of content for Instagram and TikTok.

James also created a Cameo account and did some interviews with fans. So it seemed like Crawley was criticizing James, in particular, when she tweeted about the misplaced priorities of her soon-to-be suitors.

James defended himself on Instagram the next day, pointing out that his social media activity was raising money for various charitable causes. Crawley later walked back her tweet, and said it wasn’t directed at James.

Still, the situation created an interesting backdrop for ABC’s decision to pull James from The Bachelorette and make him the lead of The Bachelor instead.

James Says He Has No Beef with Crawley

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🐸☕️ . . 📸: @brownbearvisuals

A post shared by Matt James (@mattjames919) on Jan 16, 2020 at 11:42am PST

It’s easy to assume that friction is at least part of the reason James was pulled from The Bachelorette cast. He says that’s not the case, though. James told Good Morning America that he was partly disappointed that he never got the opportunity to vie for Crawley’s heart.

“My first reaction was, ‘Does this mean I don’t get to meet Clare?’” James told GMA. “I was looking forward to meeting her.”

In a July 2020 comment on Instagram, James said of Crawley’s upcoming season: “I’m tuned in! She is gonna be great.”

All reports are that Crawley found her happily ever after quickly anyway, so all’s well that ends well.

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