Mike Johnson Gets Real About Not Becoming the First Black Bachelor: 'I Now Feel at Peace'
Matt James began his important journey as the first Black Bachelor when Season 25 premiered January 4. But, just one year prior, fan favorite Mike Johnson had been considered to lead the franchise. The role ultimately went to Peter Weber, even though a loud and passionate portion of Bachelor Nation had started an online campaign for Mike to be the first Black Bachelor.
During the inaugural episode of “Talking It Out,” his new Bachelor Nation podcast with fellow alum Bryan Abasolo, Mike — who competed for Hannah Brown’s heart on Season 15 of “The Bachelorette” and later appeared on Season 6 of “Bachelor in Paradise” — explained how he reconciled with the historic role going to someone else.
“First and foremost, I’m just thankful, quite honestly. I’m just thankful that people even wanted me to be the Bachelor,” said Mike, acknowledging the fervent support he had from fans. “I went on TV just to find love. I genuinely didn’t even know. Really, this is how nescient I was. I didn’t even know there was a position that one gets if the producer, or whoever, makes a decision and likes you to where you have your own show. I genuinely didn’t know that. So I just got to say thank you to everybody for that.”
Although Mike didn’t enter into Season 15 of “The Bachelorette” with thoughts of becoming the Bachelor, he was excited about the prospect of leading Season 24 after learning he was a top contender.
“But then when I found out about it, I was like, ‘Hell yeah, I wanna be the Bachelor,’” he recalled. “You feel me? I want love. I went on this show to find love. I didn’t ascertain it, so therefore I still want it.”
Though he was initially disappointed that he wasn’t offered the position, the Air Force veteran expressed, “I now feel at peace. I know that no human being, no individual can take my Black boy joy. Nobody can take my Black boy joy away from me.”
He continued, “I feel the honor. I truly do feel the honor of being wanted as the Bachelor, the significance of it. I understand the significance of being the Bachelor. Being [championed] by not only your peers within Bachelor Nation but then also our fanbase. That’s like the coolest thing ever to me.”
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Still, Mike admitted that hearing about both Peter and Matt’s castings made him feel insecure, if only temporarily. “To be 100 with you on our podcast, ‘Talking It Out,’ I felt insignificant about it. I’m not going to lie to you. I truly did feel insignificant,” he told Bryan. “I felt as if my character and my physical appearance were on trial. I felt that there had to be a reason that people, who I truly feel are great, got the highest honor within Bachelor Nation over myself.”
While he has love for Peter and Matt, Mike went on to point out why he believed he would have made a great Bachelor had he been given the opportunity.
“I feel that Peter and Matt are great individuals. But for them to get it over me, when the fans wanted me, there had to be a reason that I was not chosen as the Bachelor. It is what it is,” he said. “I ain’t gonna front about it — I don’t live with my mom or my dad, I would have been the first veteran, I have a truly compelling story, I have experience within love, and so I was like, ‘Why not me?’”
The summer 2020 announcement of Matt as the Bachelor came at a pivotal time in the U.S. when the Black Lives Matter movement was reignited in direct response to the murder of George Floyd and unceasing police brutality against people of color. A nationwide reckoning of systemic racism quickly followed, demanding change in arenas of all kind, from entertainment and fashion to media and politics.
Now, Mike is thrilled to see Matt — who was originally set to appear on Clare Crawley’s Season 16 of “The Bachelorette” — usher the Bachelor franchise into a brighter future as he focuses on his own projects, including his podcast with Bryan.
“I’m Mike Johnson, I love myself, and I know I’m a great human being… Matt James is a great human being,” he said. “And I’m just grateful for the opportunity to even be on the Bachelor franchise to find love and to have a sounding board on ‘Talking It Out.’”
Listen to the first episode of “Talking It Out with Mike & Bryan” below.
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