The last time Bachelor fans saw Arie Luyendyk Jr., he was getting his heart broken by Emily Maynard on Season 8 of The Bachelorette. Five years later, he's finally getting a second shot at reality TV love, but there's a lot of ground to cover between points A and B. So, what did Arie do after Emily's season?
After placing as Maynard's runner-up, the race car driver- turned kissing bandit reignited his career, returning to racing full-time in 2013 for the first time in five years, according to NBC Sports. The move marked his transition to off-road racing, which he won a bronze medal for at the 2015 X Games. Arie has also served as a commentator and analyst for racing events all over the world, and per a 2013 interview, travels roughly 250 days a year — something that makes it difficult to maintain a relationship but should put him right at home with The Bachelor's globe-trotting exploits. As he told The Show Rock 105.3:
“I’m in a different city almost every week, so if I do have a girlfriend, it’s hard to keep a girlfriend because I need someone who has a flexible schedule. And if I am on the road, I just don’t want to meet somebody on the road. I like [to travel]. I don’t like to be in one place for very long.”
Still, Arie has found plenty of time for romance. He dated Season 16 Bachelor winner Courtney Robertson back in 2012, and was reportedly linked to Season 17 contestant Selma Alameri in 2013. Outside of Bachelor Nation, he also reportedly confirmed via Twitter that he was seeing Arizona-based news reporter Jenna Jones in 2015, according to WetPaint. More recently, Sydney Stempfley — a receptionist from Arizona, where Luyendyk is based — claimed to Entertainment Tonight that she was in a relationship with Arie until just a few weeks before he was announced as the next Bachelor. She told the outlet that she was "blindsided" by the news, but doesn't think his casting was the reason for their breakup. She said:
"You can only believe what someone tells you, so, you know, there’s no proof that he had been auditioning or talking to producers at that point ... The breakup has been absolute hell for sure, but aside from this, he is a really great guy."
As far as The Bachelor goes, Arie has stayed loosely involved with the franchise. He appeared in the first episode of Sean Lowe's season in 2013, and competed on Wipeout: Summer Episode 7 Bachelors vs. Bachelorettes the following year. He also joined several Bachelor/Bachlorette alums for Juan Pablo's After the Final Rose special, and reunited last year with longtime Bachelor host Chris Harrison on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, where he chose to donate his winnings to children's hospitals across the country.
More importantly, though, Arie has been in talks to be the Bachelor for longer than fans may have realized. Sean Lowe told Dish Nation in 2015 that when it came time to pick Season 19's leading man, it was Arie, not Chris Soules, who was first on the producers' list. "From what I understand ... they wanted Arie. But [new executives at the network] were getting nervous. Like, Arie hadn’t been on TV in two years," Lowe explained in the interview. In fact, he claimed they even went as far as having Arie film introductory segments before "[pulling] the rug out from underneath him" and naming Chris the Bachelor.
Eventually, though, it worked out, and Arie is finally getting his time in the spotlight. He's had a busy but relatively low-key few years, so it will be interesting to see how he navigates the drama of The Bachelor mansion. He may be able to handle the high intensity thrill of the race track, but can he take the emotional stakes of his capital J Journey to find love? Time will tell.