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Chris Harrison Never Auditioned to Host ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’

Variety logo Variety 1/4/2017 Elizabeth Wagmeister
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Chris Harrison has hosted 21 seasons of “The Bachelor,” 12 seasons of “The Bachelorette,” three seasons of “Bachelor Pad,” and another three of the spin-off “Bachelor In Paradise,” but the television personality never even tried out for the franchise.

“I never auditioned for this job,” Harrison revealed to Variety during a Facebook Live chat on Tuesday. “I really didn’t. I’m not messing with you. I had a meeting. I had a couple meetings, and that’s it.” With a laugh, he added, “You would think they would care more about this franchise!”

Before landing “The Bachelor” in 2002, Harrison was a sports reporter at CBS affiliate KWTV in Oklahoma City in the ’90s. The Dallas, Texas, native also had a stint on HGTV’s “Designer’s Challenge,” and briefly worked for a horse racing channel.

Then came that fateful meeting. Harrison attributes landing the lucky gig to the television landscape at the time, which was bereft of reality TV in the early 2000’s.

“You have to understand when this was happening, there was no reality TV,” Harrison explained in our interview. “‘Survivor’ was just about to start and that’s it. None of the other shows had been created yet. So ‘Survivor’ was on one season, and then ‘The Bachelor’ came on, and the rest of them came after that.”

Prior to “Survivor” was Fox’s critically-panned two-hour reality special, “Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?” created by Mike Fleiss. The one-time show  — not to be confused with the syndicated game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” which Harrison also hosts today — garnered huge ratings and even bigger controversies, but it did give birth to “The Bachelor.”

“There was this concept that had been born by Mike Fleiss out of his other show that he had done,” Harrison said of “The Bachelor” creator. “I’m from the South, a Texas boy, and they wanted just kind of a down-home guy that had a family and I guess wouldn’t be the creep that would hit on all the women — and boy, did they mess up!” he cracked. “So that’s kind of how it all happened. It was just some meetings and they were like, ‘Great.'”

Fifteen years later, Harrison is still the face of ABC’s long-running franchise, which just kicked off Season 21 with “Bachelor” Nick Viall on Monday night.

“I would just like to say thanks to Bachelor Nation,” Harrison said. “It’s never taken lightly that … the support we get, for 15 years, this doesn’t happen in television, and there’s not one person that works on the show, including myself, that isn’t so grateful when you wake up on Tuesday morning and see that we dominated the ratings again and you see social media where we trending all night, even against the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. It’s such a blessing and just know that everyone is so grateful for that.”

Watch Chris Harrison’s full Facebook Live interview with Variety here:

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