Corinne Olympios Reflects on 'Bachelor in Paradise' Scandal 1 Year Later (Exclusive)

Corinne Olympios
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The Miami native says the controversy led to 'the hardest year of my life' -- but now she's excited about the future.

Corinne Olympios is stronger than she ever knew. 

The Miami, Florida, native was thrust into the spotlight on Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor in 2017, becoming beloved for her meme-worthy expressions and one-liners. She rode that fame to Bachelor in Paradise before scandal hit, and changed her life forever. 

"People don't realize what I actually went through going through something like that," Olympios told ET's Lauren Zima for Roses and Rose Live on Tuesday, a year after the controversy. "It's heartbreaking." 

Olympios and fellow Paradise cast member DeMario Jackson were at the center of the show's controversy, when a third party reported an alleged encounter between the two, leading Warner Bros. to temporarily shut down production and investigate the claims of misconduct. Olympios said at the time that she had "little memory" of her time with Jackson, and while he denied any misconduct occurred, rumors ran rampant about what went down between the two of them. 

Warner Bros. found that no misconduct had occurred, and the Bachelor spinoff eventually resumed production, without Olympios or Jackson (though they later appeared on the reunion show). Olympios later said her memory loss was due to mixing alcohol with prescription drugs, and the show implemented new drinking rules for contestants. 

"I think it was the hardest year of my life and my family's life... besides my mom going through cancer, obviously," she told ET on Tuesday. "I didn't want to leave my house. I didn't want to eat. I didn't want to talk to anyone... I was just like, 'Let this be over.' And it feels never-ending." 

Olympios said that while she and Jackson have repaired their relationship, they "were both a mess, a hot mess" during the scandal. Jackson claimed last summer that he was fired from his job as a result, while Olympios revealed that she also lost "a lot of business." 

"They just didn't want to be associated with me, and that's fine," she shared. "No one was in the wrong, it was just something that needed to be investigated. That's it." 

"[But] I'm not going to work with anyone who doubts me... I know my worth, and I'm not working with anyone who thinks otherwise," Olympios continued, revealing that she now has a new business venture on the horizon: a beauty line called Platinum Beauty, which drops on Friday. "I am so much stronger than I have ever known." 

"This has been a huge dream of mine that I actually got close to last year... Finally I'm making my own beauty shop," she gushed. "There's shades for everyone and every part of your body. It's going to be great."

The former reality star also has new love in her life, with her boyfriend, Jon. "Jon knew exactly who I was and didn't tell me," she revealed. "He just kept his cool and was feeling me out the same way I was feeling him out." 

"We met through friends, which is the best way to meet. He's just, like, so amazing. He's kind and caring and he's supportive, and he's, like, confident on his own and funny on his own. He's the package," Olympios added. "We love each other. I love him." 

As for her ex, Viall, who had some choice words for her during his interview with ET last month, she said, "I'm just not going to touch on that. I did recently see him and it was cordial," she confessed. "I call him Debbie. He's just so Debbie Down-ing all the time. Everyone says that to me, and I'm like, 'I know.'" 

Olympios also has a few notes for the Bachelor franchise. "It used to be so special, so emotional. Now it's like, 'Who's going to be this character? Who's going to be this character? How many followers can you get? What are you going to sponsor?'" she explained. "I think it needs to be an older crowd [of contestants, 25 years plus]. I think it should be people who are really there to find love." 

For now, Olympios is looking forward to her own future -- and not returning to Paradise for season five. "It's so bizarre, but it's so refreshing it was a year ago and we're starting a new chapter. It's been a really wild year," she expressed. "I think everything really is in order. They changed the drinking rules and all that. I'm excited... I hope people find love there." 

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, and Bachelor in Paradise returns Tuesday, Aug. 7. See more on Olympios in the video below.