When Nick Viall was named the next Bachelor on Tuesday night, it marked a big change from the trend of previous seasons. Instead of the Bachelor being chosen from the group of men who participated in the most recent Bachelorette season, the Bachelor is now someone who has participated in two Bachelorette seasons, that aired two and three years ago, and who was on the most recent season of Bachelor in Paradise as a wise mentor of sorts. While many members of Bachelor Nation are excited at the chance to watch the two-time runner-up find love, the runner-up from the most recent Bachelorette, Robby Hayes, isn't exactly on board with Nick Viall as Bachelor.
"It was definitely a little shocking. I mean, I think most people would agree with that. I kind of figured they would take someone that's a little more fresh, younger, maybe more energetic," Hayes tells me via phone two days after the announcement. "But I guess by announcing Nick they definitely surprised Bachelor Nation, which I'm sure they always love to do. And on the other hand, Nick's been on a few series now. What is it? Four, five, or six times now?"
Hayes' reasoning lies mostly in the fact that he wanted someone from his season to be the next Bachelor instead: "I thought there were several people worthy of the opportunity to find love, including a handful of people from my season — you know, Chase [McNary], Luke [Pell], James [Taylor]. They're all great guys with giant hearts that I got to know real well, and I definitely know that they're there for the right reasons. They wanted to find that love."
He continues, "With that being said, maybe this is the closing chapter that everyone needed, Nick included in that. And I wish Nick, I wish ABC, and all the lucky ladies that get involved with Nick all the best. It'll be surprising to see if the powers that be bring Josh [Murray] in again to steal the show though."
Hayes explains why he thinks McNary and Pell, who were considered to be front-runners for the role, would make good Bachelors, saying, "I can see Chase and Luke being great Bachelors probably because I got to know them very well during my season and I know the reasons they were there were genuine and legitimate. I don't really know Nick. I got to meet him very briefly in L.A. at the After The Final Rose filming, and, I guess, we didn't talk much. He didn't make much of an effort, so I guess you could say I wasn't very impressed."
So, does this mean Hayes thinks Viall isn't in this for "the right reasons?" He says that's not for him to say. "I hope for everyone's sake who's on the other side — the girls that are chosen to venture out there and try to find love with Nick — I hope for their sake that he is, because I've known that side and I was definitely there for those reasons," he says. "So it would be a shame if he wasn't there for those reasons. So for their sake and for his sake, I hope everyone is there for the right reasons."
As for what Hayes is up to now, he's not really just a "former competitive swimmer" as his job description on the show stated. "Former competitive swimmer ended in 2012, that's the last time I raced," he says, adding that he held a sales position for a pool company before the show. "But after the show," he says, "I'm doing a lot of traveling, a lot of appearances, a lot of events, news segments, interviews, podcasts, photo shoots, all sorts of stuff." And he still keeps in touch with many of the other guys from his season. He tells me he's recently spoken to Taylor, McNary, Christian Bishop, Evan Bass, and Alex Woytkiw. "I stay in touch with all of them except for one, and I think you can kind of figure out who that is," he adds. Yes, yes we can.
Hayes is also super appreciative of his supporters, which is what that gazing-out-at-a-body-of-water-lovingly Instagram (above) that he posted not long after Viall's Bachelor announcement was all about. "The way my season ended, it was obviously heartbreaking and I've had just an outpour of love and support from not only my family, not only my really close friends, but also people that I've never met before," he says. "Since it didn't work for me on the Bachelorette with JoJo [Fletcher], I know that there were people out there rooting for me to get the next role, and I just wanted to let everyone know I appreciated it. It didn't go unnoticed."
Well, while Hayes won't be the Bachelor himself this time around, perhaps Viall will end up setting the stage for a future Robby Hayes Bachelor season by breaking the long-standing trend of how Bachelors are chosen. Don't worry, Robby fans, there's still a chance for Robby to take the title. And if not, I'm sure Bachelor in Paradise would have him.
Image: ABC/Veronica Gambini