Chris Harrison has permanently left "The Bachelor" franchise, according to Deadline.
Harrison's exit reportedly came after he struck an eight-figure deal with ABC.
The longtime host was criticized earlier this year after defending winner Rachael Kirkconnell.
Chris Harrison has permanently left "The Bachelor" franchise after striking an eight-figure deal, according to Deadline.
Harrison agreed to step down from his longtime hosting gig, the report said, after negotiating the massive payoff, as well as promising to stay quiet about the show's alleged "dirty laundry" he reportedly witnessed during his years of hosting.
The show's producers confirmed Harrison's departure in a statement to Insider.
"Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of 'The Bachelor' franchise," the statement from ABC Entertainment and Warner Horizon Television read. "We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey."
Representatives for Harrison didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
Harrison has been a mainstay of the franchise, which includes popular spinoffs "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise," since the first season of "The Bachelor" aired in 2002.
Earlier this week. the 17th season of "The Bachelorette" premiered with former stars Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe stepping in for Harrison.
Harrison was criticized for defending a contestant who was pictured at an antebellum party
Harrison was called out earlier this year for defending Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant and the eventual winner of Matt James' season of "The Bachelor," which wrapped back in March.
Kirkconnell first made headlines when a TikTok user accused the then-contestant of bullying her for dating Black men. Another TikTok user also accused her of liking racist photos. Then pictures resurfaced of the Georgia-based graphic designer attending an antebellum-themed party in college.
After Harrison asked for "grace" for Kirkconnell (and accused the "woke police" of coming after her) during an interview with the franchise's first Black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay about the party pictures, fans and "Bachelor" contestants alike condemned his actions.
Harrison subsequently apologized and announced in a February Instagram post that he was "stepping aside" from the show for a "period of time."
"By excusing historical racism, I defended it," Harrison wrote in his post. "I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong."
"To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry," he added.
Harrison said earlier this year that he planned to return to the 'Bachelor' franchise
Despite Harrison saying back in February that he was going to take some time to "evolve," the longtime host revealed only a month later that he was planning to "be back" on the franchise.
"I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake, and I own that," Harrison said during a March "Good Morning America" interview. "I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for."
Harrison added that he wanted to return to the "Bachelor" franchise, where he's also an executive producer.
"I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change," Harrison said. "I know that change is felt not just by me but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress."
After Harrison stepped aside, it was announced that Emmanuel Acho, the bestselling author of "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man," would replace him for the "After the Final Rose" episode.
This post has been updated to include the joint statement from ABC Entertainment and Warner Horizon Television.
Read the original article on Insider