Rachel Lindsay Says She 'Didn't Expect' Chris Harrison to Leave 'Bachelor' Franchise

Chris Harrison said in a statement earlier Tuesday that he is "excited to start a new chapter"

Rachel Lindsay has spoken out following Chris Harrison's exit from the Bachelor franchise.

Appearing on Extra Tuesday, Lindsay said that she was surprised that the longtime Bachelor Nation host was officially exiting after temporarily stepping down earlier this year.

"I wasn't expecting for it to happen, not after the announcement," the 36-year-old former Bachelorette star said in a conversation with Extra host Billy Bush.

Lindsay added that she believes fans can only "speculate" at the reasons behind Harrison's exit.

"I think several past contestants coming forward and saying they didn't want him to be part of Paradise. I think Katie Thurston, her very last tweet before she went to film her season was that Chris needed to step away," Lindsay continued. "I think that, coupled with the interview that happened on this very stage, maybe led to him not coming back."

Rachel Lindsay
Rachel Lindsay.

The interview Lindsay was referring to happened on Extra back in February. The two were discussing Rachel Kirkconnell, a contestant on Matt James' season of The Bachelor who came underfire for past racist behavior that resurfaced online while the season was airing. Lindsay addressed the controversy with Harrison, who defended Kirkconnell. He later called his defense a "mistake."

Thurston — the current Bachelorette, who was also on James' season — shared on Twitter Feb. 26 that she "will always be a Rachel Lindsay supporter."

Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison
Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison. Noel Vasquez/Getty; ohn Fleenor via Getty

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"Well, it's been 19 years and if you do watch the show we saw less and less of Chris. 19 years is a big accomplishment. Maybe that's the case. We don't know. Maybe they were ready to move on," Lindsay said on Extra, Tuesday.

chris harrison
Chris Harrison. John Fleenor/Getty

Deadline, which broke the news of Harrison's departure, reported that the host will receive a massive payout to step away and stay mum about his exit.

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

Earlier on Tuesday, Harrison said on Instagram 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."

The statement comes after Harrison said on Good Morning America in March that he planned and wanted "to be back."

Lindsay also reiterated on Extra that she has previously said she accepted Harrison's apology.

"I still stand by that," she said. "I do. I think that's the way to move forward."

Extra airs weekdays in syndication (check local listings).

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