Historically, the Bachelor franchise has commanded quite a large check from American cities if they wanted to be a pit stop on the journey of a destined-to-fail engagement: From the dreary Richmond, Virginia ($536,000), to the balmier Hilton Head, South Carolina ($75,000), these Stateside destinations have served as a happy medium between the Bachelor Mansion and international hubs, a.k.a. the peak “here for the wrong reasons” period. Clayton Echard’s current Bachelor season is no exception to this structure, of course. In episodes that aired on January 31 and February 7, Echard and his contestants traveled to Houston, Texas, for a series of confusing and vaguely southern dates, which included crashing a family barbecue and pulverizing one another at NRG Stadium. And the city paid a whopping $240,000 for it all.
In documents obtained by Vulture through a Freedom of Information Act request, Houston First, a local government corporation established to promote the city through tourism, paid that sum to be a featured stop on the 26th Bachelor season, $25,000 of which went directly to boutique-hotel accommodations for Echard, contestants, and staffers. In exchange for its $240,000 “financial contribution,” the City of Houston was guaranteed to receive the following for exposure purposes:
1. In-show exposures which may consist of a combination of signage shots (including but not limited to clearable murals), verbal mentions, or chyrons for the city of Houston
2. One (1) end credit substantially in the form of “Promotional Consideration Furnished by Houston First Corporation”
3. A live link on the “as featured on” section of the official network website
4. Permission to issue one (1) press release, no earlier than one (1) week prior to the initial broadcast of the episode
5. Permission to use social media to help promote the series no earlier than one (1) week prior to the initial broadway of the episode
The Houston First Corporation’s $240,000 payment for Bachelor notoriety is, while seemingly high, aligned with what other American cities have paid in the past to get exposure on the reality series. (Although it’s interesting to note that one of Echard’s three dates occurred in the nearby island city of Galveston, which is about an hour’s drive from Houston.) In 2019, Vulture reported how much seven of these cities ponied up to the franchise, which included $313,000 for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and $50,000 for both Deadwood, South Dakota, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Houston had to abide by a few new terms for the show to film there between October 11 and October 14, 2021: The Bachelor’s production company “mandated and implemented that all of its cast and crew” are “fully vaccinated” in addition to required daily health screenings.
Houston wound up being the only Stateside sojourn for Echard’s season, with him and his ladytestants going on to stamp their passports in Canada, Croatia, and Austria prior to returning to film the hometowns episode. Relatedly, we’re dying to know what Chris de Burgh’s appearance fee was to accompany one of the most blatantly orchestrated Bachelor dates in recent memory. The shopping spree for Susie? The red gown from an Austrian atelier? The rose given to an actual lady in red? Come on. We’re not stupid.