Michael Garofola tells reporters that despite being heartbroken, Desiree made the right choice by letting him go
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Despite triumphing over Ben and shining on his first solo date, Michael Garofola, 33, was sent packing from Portugal.

Via conference call, the Miami-based federal prosecutor debated what went wrong in his televised search for love with Desiree Hartsock on The Bachelorette, assessed the final four and took a stab at predicting what the foreshadowed fantasy date drama might be.

You seemed heartbroken after elimination. Were you caught up in the moment or did you believe the one had gotten away?
I was devastated. I felt extremely rejected. I was shocked and surprised because I thought my date went so well. When Zak’s name was called, I felt like my heart exploded in my chest. There was disappointment because I was looking forward to her meeting my family. It brought back feelings – of a girl you like choosing another man over you – that I’d just been able to put behind me and in this case, she chose four other men over me. Those were not crocodile tears.

Do you feel like the one got away?
Whether it is 25, 250, 2,500, or 25,000 guys, I think the person I am ultimately going to end up with would choose me. The fact that she felt stronger about four other guys tells me all I need to know about whether she was the one. But of course she had all the qualities I look for. If she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been there that long. I was the oldest guy left. I’m not going to waste my time if I think I’d be better served getting back into the dating pool at home.

Des seemed less invested in your date than in others. Did you feel that?
No. Not everything makes it into the final cut. There was a lot more back and forth conversation than they showed. I felt she was touched by what I was sharing with her and she shared some things. Now in hindsight my feelings of hope about falling eventually were nothing compared to a guy telling her they in fact loved her or were on the verge of doing that.

Do you think getting your first solo date so late in the game, or after her first two incredible Madiera dates, killed your chances?
I don’t think it mattered what order the dates were in. Chris and Brooks were far ahead of the pack at that point. We had an incredible date, but I think I would be an afterthought after Chris on the boat and Brooks in the clouds. In seeing how far along her relationships had progressed with these four other gentlemen and comparing it to mine, there’s no doubt in my mind that she made the right choice.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of your job, but you seemed to be on a mission to weed out guys whose true colors would ultimately hurt Des like with Ben and James. Did your watchdog ways hurt your relationship with her?
I don’t think it hurt me in the long run. Desiree knew my goal was to protect her and shine a light on things she wouldn’t know not having lived in the house with us. Ben was misrepresenting who he was and his words weren’t matching his actions. But in hindsight, maybe I took it too far particularly in front of Des on the 2-on-1 with Ben. But I don’t act fake to people’s faces and talk badly behind their back. I like to confront people, hash things out and give them an opportunity to explain themselves.

Give us your thoughts on the final four
Zak is the guy we all wanted to hate night one because he didn’t have a shirt on. But you spend five minutes with the guy and [you] know there is more to him than meathead. He’s a renaissance man. He has a good heart and a strong moral compass. Drew’s a very funny guy and his hair is always perfect. We joked that when Drew wakes up, he looks just as perfect as he does for a date. He also has a very compelling backstory and family life. Chris is a talented poet, great athlete, very goofy and had a contagious laugh. Brooks will be a best friend going forward. He’s extremely witty, very deep, insightful and thoughtful about what matters most in life.

Who do you think is the best match for Des?
I left knowing that Des will end up with a great guy. Based on the last episode, Chris might be the best fit for her. But from what I witnessed, there was no getting around the undeniable chemistry between Des and Brooks. She looked at him differently and acted differently from very early on. He was a frontrunner from the beginning.

Previews suggest the drama is not over yet. As someone who got to know the guys but wasn’t there, any guesses on what happened?
I have no inside information, but my educated guess is there was something amiss about two situations. Chris told Des he loves her, but I don’t think she is quite there yet. And on the flip side, she almost admitted to Brooks that she’s in love with him but he’s a step behind. I have a feeling that situation could devastate the guys and/or Des and Drew and Zak could be caught in the wake of that.

Could it be that one realizes they aren’t ready for marriage and kids?
They are all honest, genuine and believe they are ready to make that commitment. I was impressed with the maturity of these guys. When I was 27 or 28, I was not ready to get married. I had no red flags whatsoever from any of the remaining four.

Would you be the Bachelor?
I’d have to give such a flattering honor some serious thought especially if I am still single because I have everything I want in my life except for the most important thing, which is someone to have a family with. But I’m happily back into my job and getting back to normal.