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Joan Vassos announced as first-ever ‘Golden Bachelorette’ lead

The 61-year-old private school administrator was a contestant on Gerry Turner’s season of “The Golden Bachelor.”
/ Source: TODAY

Months after teasing that “The Golden Bachelorette” spinoff was on the way, ABC has finally revealed its first golden leading lady.

On May 14, ABC announced that Joan Vassos, 61, will embark on her journey to find love on “The Golden Bachelorette,” which will air this fall. 

Joan Vassos named the star of "The Golden Bachelorette."
Joan Vassos has been named the first-ever "Golden Bachelorette" lead. Ramona Rosales / Disney

The “Golden Bachelorette” Instagram account uploaded a video that shows Vassos picking up a golden rose before turning around to reveal her sparkling gold gown, as Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” plays in the background. 

“I’m Joan, and I’m your first 'Golden Bachelorette,’” she says in the clip. 

She shared the video on her Instagram story and added, “The secret is out! I’m honored to be #TheGoldenBachelorette!”

ABC unscripted chief Rob Mills celebrated the casting news in a post on X. “Joan is your #GoldenBachelorette!!!” he cheered. “It’s going to be fantastic! The guys are great! The dates are great!”

Bachelor Nation first learned details about the first-ever season of “The Golden Bachelorette” in February when the network revealed it would premiere in the fall. But, fans had been waiting to find out who would get the opportunity to lead the inaugural season following the success of “The Golden Bachelor” with Gerry Turner as the lead. 

Vassos appeared on the popular season and became a fan favorite after her unexpected departure from the show. She was introduced to Bachelor Nation as a private school administrator from Rockland, Maryland, with an emotional backstory.  

Her ABC cast bio revealed that Vassos has four children and two grandkids. It also said that her husband of 32 years died after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

On the show, Vassos bonded with Turner, whose first wife, high school sweetheart Toni, died of an illness in 2017. 

Turner helped Vassos open up and in Episode Three he invited her on a one-on-one date after she impressed him with her charming poetry skills during the group talent show. They enjoyed a romantic dinner and she spoke about her past, sharing that it had only been a couple years since her husband passed.

Vassos received a date rose but later in the episode learned some upsetting news. She told Turner that she needed to leave the show because her postpartum daughter was struggling at home. 

“My family will always be first. Once you become a mom, you’re always a mom even when your kids are older. Nothing is more important,” Vassos told him. They said goodbye, cutting their love story short. 

Now, Vassos is getting a second chance to find love and hopefully leave the show with a happier ending. 

Her season will air on Wednesdays this fall on ABC and stream the next day on Hulu. 

Although Vassos was one of Bachelor Nation’s top picks for a “Golden Bachelorette” season, some fans wondered if contestants who made it further into the competition, like runner-up Leslie Fhima, would be chosen as the next lead. 

Turner tearfully broke up with Fhima in the final episode after realizing he was in love with Theresa Nist. He proposed to Nist and the two said “I do” during a televised wedding special in January

However, the couple announced their split in an interview with ABC News April 12. “Theresa and I have had a number of heart-to-heart conversations, and we’ve looked closely at our situation, our living situation, so forth and — and we’ve kind of come to the conclusion mutually that it’s probably time for us to — dissolve our marriage,” Turner explained in the interview.

Nist said, “We have received so much love and support from so many people who watched ‘The Golden Bachelor,’ and I don’t think we can tell you how many people told us that it gave them so much hope. We want none of that to change for anybody.” 

Turner filed for divorce soon after.