Season 25 of The Bachelor is making history for more reasons than one. Not only is leading man Matt James the first-ever Black Bachelor, but he’s also never competed on The Bachelorette. In fact, the North Carolina native wasn’t a member of Bachelor Nation at all before being selected! To learn more about Matt’s journey, keep reading.

Matt James is best friends with Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron:

Fans of the Bachelor franchise were first introduced to Matt through Tyler Cameron. The longtime BFFs met while playing college football at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Matt, 29, and Tyler, 27, later moved to New York City together to pursue their respective careers.

In 2019, Tyler competed on Hannah Brown‘s season of The Bachelorette and eventually, made it to the final two. However, in the end, Hannah, 26, chose Jed Wyatt. Turns out, Jed, 27, had a girlfriend back home whom he lied about, and Hannah quickly broke off their engagement.

During After the Final Rose, the Alabama sweetheart attempted to rekindle things with Tyler by asking him to go out for a drink. Unsurprisingly, Matt had some reservations. “Man, she better be buying,” he captioned his Instagram Story at the time. Additionally, he shared a funny meme of someone with a shocked expression and wrote, “Hell naw.”

Thankfully, Matt’s beef with Hannah didn’t last very long. Less than a year later, they ended up quarantining together with Tyler and his brother amid the coronavirus.

Matt James was supposed to compete on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette:

That’s right! Matt was slated to be on season 16 of The Bachelorette before landing his own leading role. Ultimately, it’s a good thing he skipped out! After all, Clare Crawley quit the show after just 12 days of filming to be with contestant Dale Moss and was replaced by Tayshia Adams.

That boy dodged a bullet,” Tyler told E! News of his best friend in October 2020. “That boy is on his own. Just ’cause it’s a mess. It’s just a disaster. You know what I mean? It’s nothing about Clare. It’s a mess, you know? Just to be able to jump and skip and be the Bachelor, like who, I mean, of course, good for him, so I am very happy he’s not there.”

ABC is committed to more diversity in Bachelor Nation:

“We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience,” the network said in a statement after Matt was announced as the Bachelor. “This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”

Be sure to tune in to new episodes of The Bachelor on ABC on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET, and for major season 25 spoilers, click here!