TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Chris Harrison is officially leaving “The Bachelor” franchise, the ABC reality show host announced on Instagram Tuesday.
“I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” Harrison said. ” I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”
The news comes months after Harrison came under fire for his defense of “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who was heavily criticized for attending an antebellum-themed party in 2018.
In an interview with former “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsey, Harrison had expressed sympathy for Kirkconnell and spoke out against cancel culture. He later apologized.
“I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that,” Harrison told “GMA” co-host Michael Strahan in March. “I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise.”
On Tuesday, Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment confirmed Harrison’s departure.
“Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of ‘The Bachelor’ franchise. We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Citing numerous sources close to the matter, Variety reports Harrison has hired high-powered attorney Bryan Freeman to help him explore an exit package.