Emily Maynard Says New Bachelor (and Her Runner-Up) Arie Luyendyk Jr. 'Deserves Nothing but the Best'

Luyendyk Jr.'s season of The Bachelor premieres on ABC in 2018

Fans are still reeling from the announcement that Arie Luyendyk Jr. is our season 22 Bachelor — so what do the stars of the franchise themselves think?

Emily Maynard, who dated him during her season of The Bachelorette in 2012 before ultimately picking Jef Holm, praised her ex in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE.

“I have been wanting Arie to be the Bachelor since my season ended forever ago, and I know he’s going to be great!” she says. “He’s so much fun to be around and comes from the nicest family, so the girls on his season really lucked out with him! Arie deserves nothing but the best, and I hope everything goes wonderfully for him!”

Maynard, 31, already found her happily ever after: She’s expecting her fourth child with husband Tyler Johnson.

ABC's "The Bachelorette" - Season Eight

Other Bachelor and Bachelorette alums took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the 35-year-old professional auto racing driver.

Nick Viall, the star of the most recent season of The Bachelor, and Rachel Lindsay, the most recent star of The Bachelorette, both issued their congratulations.

“Big congratulations to @ariejr…Good luck!” wrote Viall. “I have a feeling it will be great…always is.”

“Congrats @ariejr! Wishing you all the best on your new journey,” said Lindsay.

Holm also took to Twitter, where he hinted at Luyendyk Jr. being selected: “Oh the stories I could tell…”

Eric Bigger, who has said he was never approached for the role, seemingly shaded the franchise, writing: “Playing it safe is the new risk.”

Diggy Moreland was equally unimpressed, simply tweeting: “Ummm…”

Many others, however, jumped to Luyendyk Jr.’s defense.

“I am here for this!” tweeted Dominique Alexis. “Have y’all seen him make out on Emily’s season… yea he’s a gem.”

“Honestly his season was the best of all time,” wrote Caila Quinn.

“For the record, ‘I wasn’t born the last time this guy was on TV,’ is a terrible excuse not to watch,” wrote Evan Bass. “I like Arie as #thebachelor. He represents a purer time before gummies & laxative tea. (Also pls check out my new ointment line coming 2025).”

See more reactions fromfranchise stars below:

FROM PEN: Former Bachelorette Emily Maynard Johnson Says She Wants 2 More Kids to Up Her Total to 5

As for Luyendyk Jr. himself? He’s admitted that the whole thing is “pretty surreal.”

“It doesn’t really feel real yet, but I’m taking it step by step,” he told PEOPLE exclusively. “I’m not nervous. Now that I’ve had some time and distance away from it, it feels like the feeling I had before I went into it the first time. I think sometimes when you’re on The Bachelorette and you jump right into being the Bachelor, for me it would’ve been too soon. This feels more natural.”

“I’m not concerned what people think,” he said. “I’m just focused on the outcome. I want to find my person and will do whatever it takes!”

“I just want to find that spark with somebody,” he added. “I want to someone to share my life with. I feel like it’s my time. I’m going into this with an open heart.”

Luyendyk Jr.’s season of The Bachelor premieres on ABC in 2018.

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