First Black ‘Bachelor’ Gives Out His First Roses on Season Premiere

Matt James The Bachelor lead surrounded by the contestants on the first night of the season 25 premiere.

ABC’s The Bachelor introduced its first Black lead as 29-year-old commercial real estate broker and community organization founder Matt James began his search for love.

On Monday night’s season 25 premiere, host Chris Harrison told viewers the show received a record number of submissions from women interested in meeting the new bachelor.

James, a North Carolina native and former Wake Forest wide receiver, told Harrison at the top of the show he has felt pressure to end up with a certain type of contestant.

“People want you to end up with a certain type of person. I get that,” said James, whose dad is Black and his mom is White.

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“You’ve got people who are cheering for you to find love and you’ve got people who are cheering for you to end up with a specific person of a specific race,” he continued.

As the women began to emerge from their limos, the first contestant James met was biracial communications manager Bri from San Francisco. In all, 32 contestants including a professional ballerina, a broadcast journalist, a “queen,” a woman holding a vibrator, and several marketing managers tried their luck at impressing James.

In the end, his First Impression Rose went to 25-year-old Abigail, who introduced herself as deaf when she got out of the limo. After speaking to her at the cocktail hour, James thanked Abigail for being “vulnerable” with him and said he could tell she is a “fighter.” They leaned in for a kiss when he brought her the coveted rose.

Abigail also became an early fan favorite on social media and Us Weekly reports she is the first hearing-impaired contestant.

A rose means the contestant is automatically safe for the next week from being eliminated off the show. The First Impression Rose is given to the woman the bachelor feels an instant connection with during the premiere.

Besides Abigail, James handed out roses to 23 women by the end of the season premiere.

The Bachelor airs on ABC Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET as James narrows down the field to meet the woman who could potentially become his wife.

Watch a clip of James giving his First Impression Rose below: