Chris Harrison served as the host of the reality dating series and its many spinoffs for nearly two decades

By Jodi Guglielmi
June 08, 2021 01:45 PM
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Chris Harrison is speaking out about his departure from the Bachelor franchise.

Harrison confirmed his exit from the hit ABC reality dating franchise after nearly two decades as host, saying in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he is "excited to start a new chapter."

"I've had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I'm excited to start a new chapter," he wrote. "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."

After sharing the news on social media, Harrison received an outpouring of supportive comments from Bachelor Nation alum.

"It will never be the same. Love you buddy," commented Sean Lowe as his wife, Catherine Giudici Lowe, wrote: "Love you @chrisbharrison ❤️ you have a lot to be proud about. Can't wait to support you in your next endeavors :)."

"Love you my friend ❤️," said Joelle Fletcher.

Added Becca Kufrin: "Wishing you the best in your next chapters, Chris. So much love 💖."

Jason Mesnick told Harrison, "Congrats on the run buddy. The general public doesn't have any idea how much you helped us cast members members deal with the behind the scenes of the TV world. Looking forward to seeing you soon."

Emily Maynard Johnson shared, "I hope you were on a yacht in the South of France when you wrote this. You deserve it! Can't wait to see what's next and sending you a big hug ❤️❤️❤️."

"Love you Chris. Thank you for your friendship ❤️," Colton Underwood added.

Said Kelley Flanagan: "You will be missed Chris! ❤️."

Graham Bunn commented, "Can't wait to see what you do next brother @chrisbharrison."

J.P. Rosenbaum left a simple message, writing, "❤️ You."

Arie Luyendyk Jr. posted, "Love you brotha. On to bigger and better things 👏🏼."

Chris Harrison comments
Credit: Instagram
Chris Harrison comments
Credit: Instagram
Chris Harrison comments
Credit: Instagram
Chris Harrison comments
Credit: Instagram
Chris Harrison comments
Credit: Instagram
Chris Harrison comments
Credit: Instagram
Chris Harrison comments
Credit: Instagram

Harrison's statement comes hours after a source confirmed his departure to PEOPLE.

Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment also confirmed the news of Harrison's departure in a joint statement on Tuesday: "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."

While the details of Harrison's exit have not been disclosed, according to Deadline, the television personality will reportedly receive a massive payout to step away and stay mum about his parting of ways with the franchise.

Harrison's exit comes four months after the franchise became embroiled in controversy, when Rachael Kirkconnell — a 24-year-old contestant who would go on to win Matt James' season of The Bachelor — was called out for racially insensitive social media posts which saw her attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018. (She has since apologized.)

Listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Chris Harrison's departure from the Bachelor franchise.

In February, Harrison, 49, addressed the situation during an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay on Extra. During their 14-minute, unedited conversation, he appeared to defend Kirkconnell, saying people should have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of the resurfaced photos and questioning the "lens" of 2021 compared to 2018.

Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison
| Credit: Eric McCandless via Getty

Following an outcry online, he issued two separate apologies and announced that he would be "stepping aside" from the show for an undetermined "period of time."

While former NFL star-turned-author Emmanuel Acho was called on to host the After the Final Rose special for James' season and alternate hosts were found for both The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, Harrison previously hinted at a return to the franchise during an appearance on Good Morning America in March.

During the interview, he issued an apology to Lindsay, the franchise's first Black lead, and the Black community. (Lindsay, 36, has remained outspoken in her criticism of the franchise and has since left her gig as co-host of the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast.)

"There is not [a difference between 2018 and 2021]. Antebellum parties are not okay, past, present, future. Knowing what that represents is unacceptable," Harrison said on GMA. "I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I didn't speak for my heart, that is to say I stand against all forms of racism."

Still, "I plan to be back and I want to be back," he said at the time, adding that he was "committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise."