Let the Bachelorette casting free-for-all officially commence.
While it’s still too early to tell who will be season 17’s lead—c’mon, we’ve still got 20 women left competing for Matt James‘ heart—ABC executive Rob Mills did offer a bit of insight into the search for the franchise’s next lead in a recent interview.
“I would say with 99.9 percent certainly, the Bachelorette is going to be someone who comes from one of our previous seasons,” Mills told Variety. “Probably Matt’s, but at least someone who is familiar to Bachelor Nation.”
That means, unlike Matt, our next Bachelorette will not be a total newbie to long rose ceremonies and intense group dates—and it’s likely she is one of the women we’re currently watching during his season.
Since Matt’s journey kicked off on Jan. 4, fans have already started campaigning for some of his contestants to be considered for the role, including first impression rose recipient Abigail Heringer and Katie Thurston, she who infamously brought a vibrator on night one and f—king owned it.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t women from previous seasons who couldn’t end up being picked by producers, including not one, but two former Bachelorettes and Kelley Flanagan, who recently split from Bachelor Peter Weber.
With production set to begin by March, it’s likely fans will see their next lead crowned well before Matt’s finale airs. Whether it’s a familiar face from the current season or a big surprise à la Clare Crawley last year, it’s the most speculative time of the year for Bachelor Nation.