Former ‘Bachelorette’ contestant spills show’s secrets to USF students at online Q&A

From giving students a behind-the-scenes look at the Bachelor franchise to dating and life advice, Blake Horstmann discussed his early involvement with the show in the Q&A hosted by the Campus Activities Board (CAB) on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ZOOM

Viewers of any of the shows produced by the “Bachelor” franchise may wonder what it is like to be on the shows, how casting works, what questions do they ask potential contestants and how real are the reality shows. Thursday night, USF students who are fans of the shows were able to ask their questions of Blake Horstmann, a former contestant on “The Bachelorette” Season 14 and “Bachelor In Paradise” (BIP) Season 6.

The Zoom Q&A session was hosted by the Campus Activities Board (CAB) on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, paid for with Sarasota-Manatee A&S fees and hosted by Carter Bedinghaus, the campus councilman. For the one-hour event, Horstmann was contracted for $4,999, according to Coordinator of Fiscal Operations and CAB Christine Uphoff.

With about 40 people in attendance, the Q&A began with Bedinghaus introducing Horstmann and asking him some general questions about his time at “The Bachelorette,” including about how he got onto the show, how he found out Becca Kufrin was going to be the lead for the season and what the casting process was like.

According to Horstmann, he was nominated to be a contestant on the show by his mother and sister, who he said are big fans of the franchise.

“Four days after they nominated me, I got a call from producers and I ignored it at first,” Horstmann said.

When he finally did answer the call from the unknown Los Angeles number, Horstmann said he talked to a producer for about 10-15 minutes before they asked him to send in some photos.

“I gave them my Instagram account and some pictures, and then got professional photos taken,” Horstmann said. “By ‘professional pictures’ I mean it was just my mom taking my picture in her backyard.”

He was flown to Los Angeles to do a preliminary and then main interview, during which he said he was asked some “strange” questions.

“You walk into the room, and the lights are off and there is a spotlight on one chair and a producer sitting under the cameras asking questions for 10 to 15 minutes,” Horstmann said. 

After the brief interview, Horstmann said he went into a room that included about 40 other people, who have all been watching the interview, and then proceeded to fire rapid-fire questions at him.

During filming at the Bachelor Mansion, Horstmann said the other men were comparing the questions they got from the rapid-fire round of questioning in the stadium-style room.

“A weird one they asked me was ‘If you were on a deserted island with someone and they died would you eat them?’” he said. “I said ‘yes,’ and then they asked who would I eat out of the people in the room. I pointed to a 5-foot-2 red-headed guy, and they all started clapping and had him lay down in front of me. They asked me how I thought he would taste, and I said spicy, gingery. It’s super intense. They try to make you sweat.”

When leaving the interview, Horstmann said he felt confident that he had nailed it and would be on the show. He was right.

Kufrin was chosen to be the lead on “The Bachelorette” and was announced at the live finale, called After the Final Rose (ATFR), of “The Bachelor” Season 22 she was on. No one knew Kufrin would be the lead until after she was broken up with on camera by the bachelor Aerie Luyendyk Jr.

Customary to announcing the bachelorette on ATFR, a few of the contestants are brought out for the new lead to meet her potential suitors on live TV, and Horstmann was among those chosen.

He said that he got a call from producers asking him to fly out to Los Angeles for a few days, but they did not tell him exactly why.

“I called my sister and asked what’s happening,” he said. “She told me I was going to be on After the Final Rose.”

At this point, Horstmann said he did not know who was cast as the lead for the season yet, and was told only a day before meeting her.

Bedinghaus also asked Horstmann questions submitted by students in the Zoom room’s chat.

One viewer asked what was one of Horstmann’s favorite parts of his season, and he said it was something that never made it on air.

While filming in Las Vegas, he was on a group date with Kufrin and some of the other guys, and at the evening portion of the date Kufrin did something special for him.

At night, the group went to the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, and Kufrin came and separated him from the group and they were together for about an hour, which Horstmann said made the other men angry with him. The two went outside the arena, and Kufrin had a surprise set up for Horstmann.

“A giant screen was outside that said Becca ‘hearts’ Blake,” he said. 

Upset that “The Bachelorette” producers didn’t air the moment, Horstmann said he called a producer and they said they didn’t show it because it was the third episode and they could not let the viewers know Kufrin was that into him so early on in the season.

Making it all the way to the Maldives in the final two, Horstmann recalled the day Kufrin broke up with him right before he proposed.

“I was definitely in love,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy thing.”

To heal from the heartbreak, Horstmann said he and his producer went to England for five days with an unlimited budget.

“After I was dumped in the Maldives I went to London on the ABC credit card, and we ran that baby up,” he said. “We pub hopped and I saw Hamilton and Book of Mormon.”

Taking a year off from being on TV, Horstmann returned for Season 6 of “BIP”, but he did not have as good of an experience.

Horstmann was portrayed as a player when drama came out about his multiple alleged hookups with fellow “BIP” contestants at the country music festival Stagecoach prior to filming the show.

“If you get the good, sweetheart, lovable edit on ‘The Bachelorette,’ don’t go to ‘Paradise,’” he said.

Horstmann said he gave that advice to Tyler Cameron, the runner-up of season 16 of “The Bachelorette.”

When asked if he would ever return to Mexico for another season of “BIP”, Horstmann said he did not think he would.

“I don’t think I could go back down on that beach again,” he said. “It was a very horrible experience. I was trapped for three weeks and bullied for three weeks.”

However, when he was asked about if he would be the bachelor if he was asked to be the lead, he responded differently.

“If I was asked to be the bachelor I would freaking do it, but it would be a hard process,” he said.

Since he said he knows too much about the show and production, the producers would have a hard time with him as the bachelor because he is aware that producers prefer a lead who is easy to manipulate.

From reality TV to living in real life, Horstmann said his whole life has changed.

“Everything has changed,” he said. “My life was completely different in every aspect, but I’d still probably do it again. I’ve met and become friends with some people I never thought I would. My childhood heroes come up to me.”

Since being on the show, dating now has been weird for Horstmann, but he has a new outlook on relationships since the show fosters an environment in which one can quickly fall in love.

“On the show you skip all the ‘BS,’ no small talk, and that’s how I approach relationships now,” he said. “I just like to get to the good stuff. You can learn the small stuff later.”

Aside from answering questions, Horstmann left viewers with some dating and life advice.

“The only way to be successful on the show is to be completely open and not have walls up,” he said. “Embrace being vulnerable and maybe getting your heart broken. A heartbreak in a weird way makes you feel alive. It means you really cared for someone else.”