Mike Johnson is opening up about the precise moment he learned he wouldn’t be The Bachelor‘s next leading man.
During an interview on the Bachelor Happy Hour With Rachel & Ali podcast, Johnson, 31, told co-host and former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay that he was told he was not the next Bachelor just before the Bachelor in Paradise season 6 reunion began filming.
“Right before going on stage, they told me I wasn’t going to be the Bachelor,” said Johnson, who originally appeared on Hannah Brown‘s Bachelorette season earlier this year. “And so, you got me out here, flew me to L.A. There was no need for me to be there, and you just told me I’m not gonna be the Bachelor. So I just didn’t want to be there at all.”
The financial analyst clarified to Lindsay that he was indeed in talks to become the Bachelor for season 24 — a position that ultimately went to Peter Weber, a.k.a. “Pilot Pete,” also from Brown’s season.
“People probably didn’t think I was considered to be the next Bachelor because I was trying to be so respectful of the crew at Bachelor world, and I didn’t want to speak about it,” said Johnson. “Even when I went on TV, I thought that was being extremely respectful and a gentleman of me, to the Bachelor world. And I don’t think Peter did those interviews so he didn’t have to go through that.”
Had Johnson landed the role, he would’ve become the first African-American Bachelor ever, which was one of the main reasons he wanted it.
“It was bigger than me and I wanted to represent for all people of color,” he explained to Lindsay. “And then also, talking about people of color, they need to have an Asian Bachelor, they need to have an Indian Bachelor, they need to have other people outside of just black and white and I wanted to speak on that as well. But I did audition to be the Bachelor, and I 100 percent did want to be the Bachelor.”
Before learning the news, Johnson said he was already expecting things to not go the way he hoped they would.
“I found out in the trailers before you go on Bachelor in Paradise reunion. And, I knew it. I already knew in my head,” he said. “Yes I wanted to be the Bachelor, yes I auditioned to be the Bachelor. I went in there with the right intentions of wanting to find love and wanting to be true to myself. You might have seen du-rag king come back. I had a list, a word document, of the type of women I wanted, what I was scared of and what I wasn’t scared of.”
However, the former Bachelorette contestant now feels that the show “chose the right person for what they want, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.”
“When I first found out, I’m not gonna lie — I was sad,” he admitted. “I was annoyed when I very first found out. But then, I think by the end of the night, I wasn’t annoyed no more because I was appreciative and thankful that they told me ‘no’ right then and there, because now I can focus on myself. I’m just blessed because I know I’mma find my wife and find my queen.”
After Weber, 28, was named the new Bachelor at the conclusion of Tuesday’s BiP finale, Lindsay — who was the first (and so far, only) black Bachelorette — slammed the franchise for passing over Johnson.
“I think Peter seems like a very nice guy. He seems lovely. This is absolutely nothing against him, but how many Peters have we seen before? What season are we on? Twenty-four. So, we’ve seen 24 Peters,” Lindsay told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m bored. And it’s nothing personal against him.”
“For the first time, I was very confident that we were going to see our first black Bachelor,” she explained. “And so if no one else is going to speak on it, then I guess it’s my duty to say it.”
While Johnson will not get his chance at love on ABC, he has recently been linked to Demi Lovato. Along with several instances of online flirty banter between the duo, a source told PEOPLE that the pair is “having fun and getting to know each other.”
“They’ve been talking privately for a bit and hanging out,” the source added.
Last month, Johnson told PeopleTV’s Reality Check that the pair had “not connected” yet.
“We have not connected and we have not exchanged any freaky texts at all,” he said with a smile. “No to both.”
“She would definitely be cool to reach out to, but neither one of us have reached out to each other,” he said. “I think she’s sexy, she’s got a nice little booty on her and she has good voice.”
Season 24 of The Bachelor will premiere on Jan. 6, 2020 on ABC.
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