Don’t cry for Joey Graziadei.
Sure, the 27-year-old tennis pro was crushed when Bachelorette Charity Lawson “found a love that’s deeper” with his fellow finalist, Dotun Olubeko. But his own love quest is far from over.
As host Jesse Palmer announced on Monday night’s 3-hour Bachelorette finale, Graziadei will soon be back in the dating game in a big way—as the next Bachelor.
“It’s definitely surreal,” the soon-to-be leading man said when Palmer asked him about his new role. “It’s sinking in very slowly, but I’m trying my best to just stay present and enjoy it. But this is crazy.”
The in-studio audience cheered loudly about the casting news, which came just moments after they’d watched Graziadei get rejected by Lawson during the pre-taped part of the show.
Lawson had repeatedly professed her love for Graziadei in the days before his planned proposal, and on their final date, she even told him, “I don’t have a doubt in the world.”
But maybe she meant to add “about marrying Dotun,” because when Graziadei made his intentions clear, she didn’t give him her final rose.
“I keep thinking back to that poem that we created, and how much it made us realize how real our feelings were for one another,” he told her. “There was one line in particular that I think back to. It says, ‘I sink into you without thinking. It’s so easy, I’m scared.’ For me that just means it’s OK to lean into how comfortable this feels, even though it’s scary. I stand here now very confident that it hasn’t just been your story. It’s turned into our own beautiful love story that we can look back on and be confident of, and I really just can’t wait to see what comes next.”
What came next was a broken heart for Graziadei, who wept as he left the scene.
However, his tears are far behind him now, as he explained to Palmer.
“You have to take some time to get a little more closure,” he said of where his is now. “Watching Dotun and Charity’s connection was enough for me. I’ve got so much love for that dude and, obviously, for her completely, as well. It was just nice to see someone so special be with her, and that, in general, gave me a lot more ability to just separate myself from it, appreciate it for what it was and to know that, most of all, it opened up a part of me that wanted something so bad. So I’m just in this point right now where I prioritized something in my life that I’ve put on the backburners for while, and I’m ready to prioritize it again.”
And he’s already met one of the women in the running to be his new priority.
Before the episode wrapped, Palmer introduced Graziadei to a member of the audience named Lea, who’d just found out she would be one of the dozens of women he’ll date when his season of The Bachelor gets underway.
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