'The Bachelor': Clayton Echard Is 'Broken' in Dramatic First Look at Season 26

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It's official: Clayton Echard is the next Bachelor! The long-rumored next lead of the franchise's flagship series was finally confirmed on Tuesday, when the first look at his season aired at the end of Michelle Young's hometown dates on The Bachelorette.

In the preview, the 28-year-old orthopedic sales rep introduces himself by saying, "I'm just a Midwest guy from Missouri that just wants to find love. I believe more than anything that my future wife is here."

The season won't be without drama, though, as Clayton's women spar back-and-forth, throwing around insults like "fake" and "two-faced," before one woman tells another to "keep my name out of your f**king mouth." 

Lots of sobbing and hugs from Clayton ensue, leading the Bachelor to fume, "She f**ked it up for everybody. I’m done. It’s over. I’m just so broken."

The official announcement came after Michelle broke up with Clayton on the Nov. 23 episode of The Bachelorette.

The split came as a bit of a surprise, as Clayton had impressed four of Michelle's students enough to earn his first one-on-one date. While the pair had a great time riding around in a junk food-filled limo and goofing off at a museum, Michelle felt that there was "something missing" with Clayton.

Following the split, Clayton received letters from two of Michelle's students, which caused him to break down in tears and profess his want for a wife and family.

Clayton Echard
ABC

Speculation that Clayton had been cast as the next Bachelor began in September, when photos of a man that resembled him filming what appeared to be a promo shoot for the show surfaced. Later, multiple outlets confirmed the news through sources.

Clayton seemingly confirmed the news himself shortly thereafter, during an apparent shoot for the show in his native Missouri.

"I’m excited. I’m also very, very nervous," Clayton told a gathered crowd, according to video obtained by local news station Fox 2 Now. "I’m looking to find my person."

When ET spoke with Bachelorette co-host Tayshia Adams before the news became official, she shared why Clayton would be a great franchise lead.

"He was very personable," she said. "He seems super fun. I think he'd be a great Bachelor. He was someone that really had fun with all of the dates. I think if it is him, you're in for a little treat."

Michelle is a fan of her ex, too. Ahead of the official announcement, she told ET that he's "such a wonderful person."

"I think Clayton is just so wonderful, so deserving of love, wants to find his person," she said. "... He's all in with opening up. He's all in with being vulnerable, so I think that he will get the most out of it."

In a press release, ABC referred to Clayton as "a puppy-loving goofball with a heart of gold (and surprisingly good dance moves) who is ready to find the love of his life."

Per the network, the former football player, who has dreams of starting his own business, enjoys spending time at his family home on Lake St. Louis. You can often find him there tubing out on the boat, fishing off the dock or getting competitive over some cornhole with his friends, his two younger brothers and his mom and dad, who have been married for 29 years.

Just like his parents, the network said, Clayton’s looking for a partner, a great love and a best friend.

Clayton's season of The Bachelor, which will be hosted by Jesse Palmer, is set to premiere Monday, Jan. 3 on ABC. Until then, ET has got you covered throughout the entirety of Michelle's season with all of our Bachelorette  coverage.

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