Since day one of The Bachelorette, fans have fallen for Colton Underwood, the hunky former football player who started his own philanthropic foundation to help kids with Cystic Fibrosis. But as soon as day two, other fans also started questioning his motives. After all, it didn't take long for tweets of his to surface about how he had an eye for Tia Booth, one of the other contestants on Arie Luyendyk, Jr.'s season of The Bachelor. And it only took slightly longer for Tia to make a cameo on Becca Kufrin's season just in time for the reveal that she and Colton had actually dated before the show.
Since then, the specter of Tia and Colton's relationship has haunted the Bachelorette contestant as he cozied up to Becca, revealed that he is (or at least was at the time of filming) a virgin, and brought his would-be-fiancé to meet his family for a hometown date in Colorado. And now, with Tia having returned to profess her feelings for Colton on the show while Colton has come out to share his shock at hearing them on Ashley Iaconetti and Ben Higgins' podcast, Almost Famous, some fans see only one real conclusion to draw.
Did Colton go on The Bachelorette for the wrong reasons? Was he in it just for the fame?
OK, OK, let's not all rush to pretend to be shocked. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a Bachelorette contestant came on the show more interested in finding Instagram followers than finding love. We all remember Whaboom's time in the Bachelor Mansion. But the idea that Colton might've been there ~for the wrong reasons~ is at least a little surprising considering that he didn't enter with a gimmick, he didn't seem to clamor for camera time, and was pretty straight-forward with Becca about all of the obstacles that stood in their way. But the fact that Colton knows how to practice the art of subtlety doesn't mean that he doesn't also know how to construct the perfect TV narrative.
Consider the facts. Before Arie pretty much blew up Becca's plans for their future together and broke her heart on camera, Tia seemed like the front-runner for The Bachelorette. And Colton's crush on her was more than a little obvious. He tweeted about her while watching the show, and followed her on Instagram while going through the casting process himself.
Dr. Tia 😍 #TheBachelor
— Colton Underwood (@colton) January 30, 2018
Tia was the one to follow back and DM him first, but according to what he said on Almost Famous, they discussed the fact that she might be the next lucky girl to hand out those roses and he might just be on The Bachelorette. When the time came, though, and Becca was announced, he was more than prepared to switch gears and be her contestant instead — despite the fact that the only time he's ever tweeted about Becca was after she sent him home.
The Tia/Colton/Becca love triangle had people talking.
Fans have always smelled something shady here, and the theories basically come up with themselves. Colton flirted with Tia when it seemed she was going to be the star of The Bachelorette so that he could have an in already by the time he was on the show, guaranteeing that he'd make it far. But there's an even darker theory at play. He didn't just switch from being interested in Tia to being interested in Becca so that he could win, but feigned interest in both respectively so that he could make it as far as possible in the season — but without winning that final rose. Because for all the love that the "winner" finds on the show, we all know that the real "winner" is the "loser" who nabs the coveted spot of The Bachelor on the next season.
Can we stop acting like Colton is an innocent victim in this Tia drama?! This dude is fame hungryyyyyy. He doesn’t care if he’s with Tia or Becca. He just wants the insta follows. And IM NOT DOING IT!!
— Dayton Brown (@daytonhorton) July 17, 2018
Colton's set himself up to be a classic Bachelor star: wholesome, family-friendly, principled, loves football, and loves kids. Heck, didn't his intro package open with him holding a puppy? That's catnip to a whole lotta women out there, and let's not pretend he doesn't know it just because he's never had sex. And the virgin storyline has helped propel other Bachelor stars into the spotlight before, most notably Ashley I. and Sean Lowe who became known as the "Virgin Bachelor" after his season aired. Let's not forget the fact that Colton kept professing how private and secretive he'd been about sharing that information — you know, before he decided to announce it on national TV.
But Colton's quest for fame didn't just start earlier this year.
It actually started two years ago in the summer of 2016 when he asked out Olympic gymnast (and all around wonder woman) Aly Raisman on camera.
Aly is gorgeous, talented, and incredibly impressive in about a hundred different ways — but she's also a celebrity. And it's not an accident that Colton asked her out in a video during an interview that pretty much went viral. After all, one of his teammates was dating (and is now married to) Aly's friend and fellow gymnast, Shawn Johnson. There were other more private ways he could've reached out. But he went for the splashy route that got his name in the news, got a confirmation from Aly on camera, and made sure their romance was the stuff of headlines when they finally started dating and attending red carpets together. That former relationship also gained him a little extra traction once he was on The Bachelorette since plenty of fans already knew who he was as opposed to all of the other men who were total newcomers.
And yet, that relationship has hardly even been mentioned on camera. In fact, it even seems as if Colton's downplayed it — presumably because "dated a celebrity and went to the Golden Globes" doesn't fit the All-American boy next door persona he's presenting. He even told Becca during hometowns that she's the first girlfriend he's brought home to meet the family — and then IRL deleted a picture of him, Aly, and his family wearing matching pajamas on Christmas Eve off of his Instagram. Take it as a larger picture and all the evidence adds up to make Colton seem, well, honestly pretty shady.
But the most damning evidence is that Colton doesn't seem to always be the good guy we've seen on TV.
And you can peep that on his social media. After Colton's virginity reveal on the show, he had people talking. And TV host Wendy Williams had some, well, not flattering things to say. But the way Colton responded was next level savage in a response that made a lot of Bachelor Nation fans uncomfortable — and some suggested even had racist and slut-shaming undertones.
The double standards in today’s society… it’s okay if you don’t agree with my personal choices, but some of your talk shows take it too far. “Don’t trust a virgin” but you’ll trust your 3 baby daddies who cheat on you every weekend. Okay 🤷🏼♂️
— Colton Underwood (@colton) July 11, 2018
Defending yourself is one thing, but implying that anyone who is not a virgin has "3 baby daddies who cheat on you every weekend" is pretty beyond the pale. And if you think he's just talking about Wendy — who's been married for two decades and has one son with her husband — well, that's actually even worse. And he continued to defend his statement, even cross-posting it to his Instagram story where he added the caption, "During the #MeToo era let's take shots at someone who respects females." Uh, newsflash, Colton: Being a virgin isn't necessarily reflective of anyone's respect for women. And let's maybe not co-opt the #MeToo movement — of which your ex-girlfriend Aly Raisman was a veritable hero when she confronted her actual abuser in court — as a shield against a national conversation that you started on a reality TV show.
If you still don't believe it, though, don't worry — because Colton's not planning on leaving your TV screens any time soon.
Colton has the worst poker face, his thoughts right now: thank god I can just go to paradise and get more famous and dammit I wish I wasn’t conned by producers into that awkward conversation about fantasy suites with Chris Harrison #thebachelorette
— Alison Reigel (@alisonisnumber1) July 17, 2018
Yep, he'll be back to continue his storyline on Bachelor In Paradise, and probably try to lean into that redemption arc by giving Tia a shot before deciding things just aren't there between them, leaving him single just in time for The Bachelor's star to be announced. We're just hoping the producers choose to go another way.