Host Jesse Palmer revealed during the Tuesday, March 15, After the Final Rose special that both Rachel, 26, and Gabby, 31, will helm the show. It marks the first time in the franchise’s history that two leads will appear for the entirety of a season.
“I am so happy for her. I truly am!” Rachel said. “It’s crazy. This is insane and I’m excited to do this journey with you. We did it once together. We’ve been through the most crazy experience together.”
Gabby then chimed in: “I’m a girl’s girl through and through, so having a friend by my side is the best thing I could ask for.”
Ahead of the announcement, Clayton exclusively told Us Weekly that he would be happy to see any of his former contestants take on the role of Bachelorette. “I was blessed to have a phenomenal bunch of women that were there with me along that journey, and I think you could make an argument for a great deal of them,” he said after the Women Tell All taping. “I can’t really, nor would I feel comfortable, though, giving one person my bit of approval. There’s a lot of women that I think would do a phenomenal job.”
Bachelor Nation lobbied for several other contestants to embark on their own journeys to find love. Serene Russell, who made it to Clayton’s final four before being eliminated during hometown week exclusively told Us, “I definitely am open to the right opportunity to find love.”
The elementary school teacher, 26, continued, “That being said, if it felt like it were the right situation for me, it felt like it was meant for me, I would do a lot of thinking and all of that, but if it felt right, I would probably do it if it meant that I would find my person.”
However, there’s still a possibility that Serene could find The One on Bachelor in Paradise this summer. “I really still want to find love,” she said, adding that she was “definitely” open to heading to Mexico for the spinoff. “That’s kind of, like, my big thing is I really want that. I want to start a family really bad.”
Another popular choice was Susie Evans, who was abruptly sent home during the fantasy suite dates after finding out that Clayton had been intimate with the other two finalists: Rachel and Gabby. “I could see Susie doing it,” season 26’s Sarah Hamrick told Us before the official casting announcement. “I think that she’s deserving of it. I think she would handle it very well. She’s always been very genuine to me and has good intentions, so yeah, I wouldn’t hate to see Susie.”
Serene agreed, adding, “I think Gabby would just crack me up, but Susie is really funny too. Susie was my roommate, like, the entire time. And we would just stay up all night giggling, cracking up laughing, getting delirious.”
Despite her costars’ enthusiasm, Susie was not an option for the Bachelorette because she got back together with Clayton after breaking up with him in Iceland.
Season 19 of The Bachelorette will premiere later this year.