Sean Lowe Says Arie Luyendyk Jr. Filmed a 'Bachelor' Intro Years Ago (Exclusive)

Sean Lowe and family

Arie Luyendyk Jr. is our new Bachelor, but according to his old pal, Sean Lowe, he was almost the Bachelor once before!

ET spoke with Lowe and his wife, Catherine (Giudici) Lowe, by phone. Lowe, of course, was third runner-up on Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette in 2012, with Luyendyk coming in second. The two have remained friends, and Lowe, who was Bachelor in 2013, has always been a champion of Luyendyk following in his footsteps.

"I’ve been lobbying for Arie forever," Lowe reveals. "I think they actually told him he was going to be the Bachelor the year they told Chris Soules, and they even filmed some of [Arie's] intro package in Arizona, and ultimately pulled the rug out from underneath him in the end."

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So, the history of the entire Bachelor franchise could've been completely different! Luyendyk was equally surprised this year when he got the call to be the Bachelor, telling ET he didn't fully believe it was real until the morning of the official announcement. Perhaps the apparent almost-Bachelor moment had made him wary.

It's now been five years since Luyendyk was on The Bachelorette, but Lowe says new franchise fans will warm up to him quickly. He also defends his 36-year-old friend against anyone who thinks he's not there for, as they say, the right reasons.

"He’s such a respectful guy, he gets a bad rap," Lowe says. "I guess he probably dated some girls that are younger than he should’ve been dating ... but I talked to him before they selected him as Bachelor and [back then] he was talking about how it was so surreal to attend his younger brother’s wedding, how he was kind of jealous of his brother and wanted to move on to that next chapter of life and have a family."

"I think he will go into it with that mindset," he continues. "Looking on to the next chapter of life as opposed to, 'What can The Bachelor do for me and how can I profit off of it once it’s over?' Arie is a lot like myself, he saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and saw that it could be a lot of fun."

Some skeptics say Luyendyk is just trying to revive his racing career by appearing on the show, but Lowe has a response for that.

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"If you know anything about racing, it costs millions of dollars to support a team," he says. "It would take much more than being on The Bachelor to resurrect an Indy500 career."

But back in 2012, Luyendyk was already telling Maynard he was ready to get married, have children and even parent her daughter. So, what's he been doing for the past five years, and why hasn't he found love?

"I know he's changed since 2012," Lowe says. "He picked racing up [again back then], and he’s traveled a ton. I don’t think he’s met the right person or had the time to search. [Now] he’s spending more time doing real estate as opposed to racing and he’s at a point where he’ll spend most of his time in Scottsdale, and he’s really ready to settle down."

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Luyendyk has finished filming his season, the 22nd in the franchise, and Lowe says he's spoken to him since it ended. The Texan even knows the outcome, though he won't spill any details. He did reveal the one piece of advice he gives to all Bachelors.

"I said, 'Do not kiss anyone if other women can see because that will always get you in trouble!" Lowe shared. Based on the season preview, though, Luyendyk (who's actually known as The Kissing Bandit), didn't listen. Lowe can only laugh in response and summarize: "What an idiot!"

Of course, Lowe knows what he's talking about: he's the only Bachelorin franchise history to marry the woman he proposed to on his finale, and still be with her to this day! He and Catherine will celebrate four years of marriage in January. When we spoke with them, Lowe was getting dinner together and caring for Catherine, who was sick.

"Luckily Bertolli is an easy go-to for us," he says. "It's really simple to make something hearty. Especially this time of year, I love something hearty, and with Bertolli, we can do a pasta and add some lean ground beef or turkey, and the rustic pasta sauces have those thick-cut vegetables that are really crisp and fresh. It’s a pretty easy meal, so when Catherine’s down with a flu bug or something and I’m in charge of dinner, that’s something I’m capable of putting together!”

The Bachelor premieres Jan. 1 on ABC. To find out what kind of Bachelor that Luyendyk says he'll be, watch the video below!