'Bachelor' Peter Weber Addresses Sydney Hightower's High School Photos With Hannah Brown (Exclusive)
By Paige Gawley and Jennifer Drysdale
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Peter Weber knows he has a "thing for Alabama girls" -- but he didn't know that one woman on his Bachelorseason, Sydney Hightower, actually went to the same Alabama high school as his ex, Hannah Brown.
While speaking with ET's Lauren Zima on Wednesday, the 28-year-old pilot opened up about what he knew of Sydney's background while they were on the show -- and no, he had no idea she knew Hannah.
"I didn't know. I knew that they were both from Alabama. I had no idea that they went to the same high school," he explains, adding that he hasn't talked to Hannah about it.
Yearbook photos from Sydney and Hannah's Tuscaloosa high school surfaced after Sydney's one-on-one date with Peter aired on Monday night's Bachelor. Sydney got emotional during the date, telling Peter that she was the target of racism and bullying in high school, and as a result, missed out on things like Homecoming, and ate her lunch in the bathroom stall during her senior year of high school.
Former classmates of Sydney's then posted photos on social media of her winning a beauty pageant and being picked as an "upperclassmen top beauty," in an attempt to negate her claims.
"I did eat my lunch in the bathroom stalls, I did have to wipe 'n***er lover' and 'half breed' and 'monkey nose' off of my car windows and pavement," Sydney wrote on Twitter after the photos circulated. "But you will never know those struggles, and that's a blessing."
"Feels ridiculous I even have to address this. But correct I did win a beauty pageant my senior year of high school. That was voted for by 5 judges. Not by my peers," she wrote in another tweet. "Winning a pageant based off of outer beauty does not take away the racial bullying, and isolation I’ve been through."
Peter, on his part, praised Sydney for her strength during the episode. On Wednesday, he told ET that he doesn't "necessarily think she was lying about her not going to some of the high school dances."
"I believe her on that," he shares, noting he's aware of the photos that have surfaced.
"Listen, I feel like so many of us have been under attack with this show. I don't necessarily understand why," Peter says. "It seems like in recent seasons there's so much hate coming on and that kind of saddens me. I feel like that's not what this is about. This is truly about trying to hopefully have an amazing love story and it's being just overcome and overwhelmed right now with this insane drama and all this hate."
"It sucks, but it is what it is," he concedes.
The half-Cuban Bachelor admitted it's "tough" watching the show back. "There's a lot of stuff that I didn't know," he shares. "I knew as I was filming that I only had my interactions with each of the women. That's all I could go off of, but it's tough."
Peter said that with some things, he feels "a little bit" deceived." "I get that people can be dramatic and people can be catty sometimes, but I didn't know it was necessarily to that extent," he confesses.
The drama continues on Wednesday's special episode of The Bachelor, airing at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC -- and ET will be live blogging along the way.
The Bachelor usually airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See more on the show in the video below.