A source told ET that Crawley's time on the show came to a close as she's fallen for one of her contestants -- and Fedotowsky believes Crawley and the mystery man likely formed a connection before meeting on "night one." The former Bachelorette told ET's Lauren Zima on Monday that, in her opinion, Crawley was likely talking to several of her contestants before filming started last month in Palm Springs, California.
"We have to assume she was talking to all of them, if not the majority of the ones she was interested in, based off of pictures or initial attraction," Fedotowsky said. "That's got to be it, there's no question."
The coronavirus pandemic put Crawley in a position no Bachelor franchise lead has ever been in before. Her cast was announced in March, and filming of her season was set to begin. But days later, production was halted due to the outbreak. So instead of meeting at the Bachelor mansion, Crawley and her men got their phones back, were released from production and were sent home. Over the next few months, Crawley certainly had the time and ability to potentially connect with men from her cast. As far as what we know for sure, Crawley did admit she'd looked them up during an appearance on the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast in late June.
"No question... She was [talking to them]," said Fedotowsky, who revealed that she and the other Bachelorettes had added Crawley to their group text and were in communication with her when she was in quarantine (before production began again.)
Though communicating with contestants before filming is typically a major faux pas in the franchise, on some occasions, the show has leaned into prior connections. Peter Weber serendipitously met his current girlfriend, Kelley Flanagan, at a hotel bar a month before she appeared as his contestant on the show. Nick Viall's season included contestant Liz Sandoz, whom he had a romantic encounter with a year before his season at a wedding. Viall joined Kaitlyn Bristowe's season of The Bachelorette after they spent weeks flirting online, and a guy Rachel Lindsay knew from childhood, Fred Johnson, was a contestant on her season.
Whether Crawley had conversations with any of her contestants before filming isn't confirmed, but Fedotowsky is sure the hairstylist "saved herself a lot of stress and tears" by deciding to end her journey after apparently falling for one of the men. "I think it's 100% the right decision, and I think it's going to be so exciting to watch," she said of the upcoming season.