The Bachelor has been plagued with controversy ever since Season 25 was announced. Matt James, who was the first Black Bachelor, was slated to appear on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette before being given the title of The Bachelor due to his friendship with alum Tyler Cameron. Tyler even told People that Matt “dodged a bullet” by being removed from Clare’s quarantined contestants. 

Of course, Matt’s own season of The Bachelor was jam-packed with its own drama. From bullying allegations amongst the women to host Chris Harrison coming under fire for defending winner Rachael Kirkconnell after her past racially-charged behaviors came to light, Season 25 was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Even Matt’s reunion with his estranged father sparked Bachelor Nation backlash for its perceived exploitation of racial stereotypes. 

Now fans are pointing to a clear indicator as to why Matt knew Rachael had his heart all along. Good thing runner-up Michelle Young will soon star in her own well-deserved season of The Bachelorette to air this fall — the second Bachelorette season slated for 2021with sex-positive Katie Thurston helming the first. 

Keep scrolling to find out what audiences believe is the telltale sign a Bachelor star has picked their respective winner. Hint! It has to do with one coveted dream date!

Fans believe that the shopping date will get the final rose

According to Refinery29, there is a theme in dates reserved for Bachelor frontrunners. Even alum Ben Higgins, who appeared on Season 25 as an advisor to Matt James, revealed that Bachelors have the ability to pick date ideas with ABC producers. So when Rachael Kirkconnell received the Pretty Woman-inspired romantic shopping rendezvous, fans and critics alike knew Matt was going to give her the final rose. 

“The extravagant date holds a lot of meaning in the franchise,” Refinery29 explained, highlighting that both Becca Kufrin and Hannah Ann Sluss received similar dates on their respective seasons before getting engaged. “The moment Rachael is tapped for the shopping from Matt, her frontrunner status is undeniable.” 

Even worse, Matt gave the other two leading contestants — Michelle Young and Bri Springs — “relatively cheap dates,” including bike riding, camping, and picnics. Rachael, on the other hand, also received a skydiving date and a luxurious Fantasy Suite. “So Bri and Michelle get $3 budget dates and log cabins, but Rachael gets a pottery class, an ACTUAL suite and fireworks? Matt makes me sick,” a viewer tweeted. 

While Redditors pointed to production possibly favoring Rachael, it’s clear that Matt was the one steering the season. Former Bachelor Colton Underwood told This American Life that he was constantly asked to “rank the girls” so cameras could focus on the frontrunners. It seems Matt ranked Rachael the highest, for better or for worse. 

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