Being the star of ABC's The Bachelor or The Bachelorette might seem like a dream come true. You get to meet dozens of attractive suitors, travel the world, and gain instant fame - and potentially even meet the love of your life.
But what happens off-screen when the cameras stop rolling? What do Bachelor winners have to do? Every contestant on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette - not to mention spin-off shows like Bachelor in Paradise or Bachelor Pad - signs a contract full of fine print detailing what they can and can't do on the show and beyond. For every long-running relationship the show produces, and every claim that "This process really works," there are a ton of backstage machinations.
As appealing as the fantasy might seem on television, the only way to get onto a Bachelor-related show is to essentially sell your soul to ABC. The Bachelor winners' contracts, and the contractual obligations of contestants, demonstrate just how far you have to go to get a shot at the final rose.
The Winner Gets To Keep The Ring, But Only If They're Together For Two Years
Every season, jeweler Neil Lane swings by in the penultimate episode to show rings to the Bachelor or remaining two Bachelorette contestants. These rings cost a pretty penny (the ring Jef Holms picked to propose to Emily Maynard cost an estimated $150,000) but the huge advertisement for Neil Lane is worth the cost.
Contestants only need to stay together for two consecutive years, and the ring is theirs to keep - no marriage required. If they break up before this time period is up, they're contractually obligated to return the ring. This system has led to fan accusations of winning couples staying together just to keep the ring, but the numbers don't make a strong case. After a combined 33 seasons, only a few couples have made it past two years.
The Stars Don't Choose The Dates
Being scared of heights is a luxury the Bachelor/Bachelorette doesn't have. The dates they take contestants on cover everything from the weird (Andi's miming date) to the heart-pounding (Ben's date scaling the Golden Gate Bridge). And while the lead always puts on a show of having personally crafted the date for this particular contestant, that's not quite the case.
Their contracts specify that they are required to participate in any and all dates, despite the involvement of potentially dangerous physical activity, such as skydiving and parasailing.
The Bachelor/Bachelorette Gets Paid
True love might not be the only motivation for members of the Bachelor franchise. While contestants are paid nothing - and actually lose money paying for weeks upon weeks of formal wear and taking a leave of absence from their jobs - the leads of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette rake in six figures.
On average, they make $100,000, with Emily Maynard rumored to make $250,000 as the highest paid Bachelorette. It's not a bad salary for a month-and-a-half of filming. And that doesn't include the money potentially made from book deals, Instagram endorsements, and spin-off shows.
There's No Internet Access - Not Even For The Star
Many former contestants have spoken out about the isolation of the Bachelor Mansion; apparently, there are no books, no television, no phones, and no Internet. It turns out even the lead is cut off from the outside world.
This might be a tactic to get stir-crazy and dramatic material from contestants, but why imprison your lead? From former Bachelor Sean Lowe's story, it sounds like a precaution to keep you unbiased about your contestants. He recounts sneaking onto the internet on a producer's iPad and immediately Googling his final two women.