As Rachael Kirkconnell continues to make headlines, the controversial Bachelor contestant’s family, including parents Darrell and Kim Kirkconnell, will meet Matt James on the Monday, February 22, episode of The Bachelor.
The 24-year-old graphic designer came under fire following the January 4 premiere of season 25 when a TikTok user accused her of being racist in high school. Screenshots of Instagram photos that Rachael “liked” featuring her friends smiling in front of Confederate flags subsequently surfaced via social media.
According to Reddit users, Rachael’s mother defended her daughter at the time via her since-deleted Instagram account.
“We are against the Confederate flag. I just don’t understand how you can say she or anyone in her family agrees with the Confederate flag because she ‘liked’ a pic of her friend,” Kim reportedly wrote, claiming the TikTok user didn’t even go to Rachael’s high school. “The ‘like’ had nothing to do with her liking the Confederate flag. We do not support racism of any kind. It is 100 percent wrong. All people should be treated fairly and with dignity, love and kindness.”
Matt, for his part, previously warned Bachelor Nation that “rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people’s lives” and told Entertainment Tonight on February 2 that he hoped Rachael “will have her time to speak on that.”
Rachael later made headlines for photos of her at an Antebellum-themed fraternity formal on a Georgia plantation in 2018. After Chris Harrison was accused of defending her past actions during an interview with Rachel Lindsay on Extra, Rachael broke her silence on the controversy.
“While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address. I hear you, and I’m here to say I was wrong,” she wrote on February 11. “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
Rachael continued: “I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it’s important to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out. If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.”
After Harrison’s Extra interview, the host announced that he wouldn’t be featured on the upcoming live After the Final Rose taping. While Matt shared support for the season 13 Bachelorette amid the scandal, he previously opened up to Us Weekly about how he was falling in love with Rachael after their first one-on-one date.
“Night one, what she chose to use her time with me to speak about was very intentional. And it wasn’t something that wasn’t going to progress our relationship,” he said on Us’ “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast earlier this month. “And then when I saw on the first group date, and I’m referring to all these instances that aren’t one-on-ones, because that was how our relationship was lived out, you know, I hadn’t had that one-on-one time with her yet. And when I had that day to spend with her and really get to know her better, it just affirmed everything I had already felt.”
Matt added at the time that he didn’t know “the rules and regulations” of dropping an L-bomb on the show.
“And so, whenever I felt something, I said it,” he said. “And I only said things that I meant and felt. So, if that got tossed around a few times, it’s because I felt it. And if it doesn’t, then that means that connection hadn’t gotten to that point yet.”
The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.
Scroll through for a breakdown of the Kirkconnell family: