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.
If you've ever watched a season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette and wondered how the lead could possibly keep the crazy psychotic villian for yet another episode, the answer is they might not have wanted to.
The shows' contracts state that the lead agrees "to follow all of Producer’s rules, directions and instructions in all matters, including Participant selection." Ultimately, if the producers wanted to dictate who each and every rose goes to, it's within their rights.
That being said, it's in the producers' best interests to have a happy and cooperative lead. A star who isn't invested could sabotage the season. The Bachelor or Bachelorette also has the option to quit the entire season at any point if they so choose. So while producers likely have a hand in keeping a ratings darling around a bit longer, the lead still ultimately holds the power.
As specifically stipulated in the Bachelor/Bachelorette's contracts, the show's producers have the right to film the lead 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also have the right to record stars secretly with hidden cameras and microphones.
Rest assured, though, the contract does specify that these hidden cameras "shall not be positioned to intentionally capture images of you urinating or defecating in the bathroom."
Many Bachelors and Bachelorettes have admitted later that they knew who their final pick was going to be much earlier than the finale. But of course, that's not as entertaining as a neck-and-neck competition for one person's heart.
The lead is contractually obligated to adhere to the format of the show, which includes weekly eliminations of a certain number of contestants. While they might be allowed to make a random or out-of-order cut here and there, the show is slated for a certain number of episodes, and therefore a certain timeline.
Trista Sutter, the first Bachelorette, later lamented that she didn't tell her now-husband, Ryan Sutter, how she felt about him on the show. She didn't share her feelings at the time because she was worried about the money on the line if she broke her contract with ABC. The leads can't just express their love for a contestant willy-nilly.
The Bachelor/Bachelorette and all contestants on the show sign contracts with an extensive section on confidentiality. They are not allowed to discuss what happened on the show until it's finished airing, even to family members. If they breach this part of the contract, ABC is within its bounds to seek legal recourse or monetary compensation. If you're the star, you can be on the hook for up to $5 million. Yikes.
Of course, secrets come out. Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe inadvertently spoiled the ending of her own season by Snapchatting the winner, Shawn Booth, in bed with her. ABC didn't comment on the incident, even though Bristowe owned up to the mistake. She wasn't sued by the network.