It's true: Luke Pell had his bags packed and his contract finalized. He was ready to fly to Los Angeles for the announcement that he would be the next Bachelor—until he got a call saying the network had gone a different direction.
"Over the past few weeks leading up to the announcement, we had come to terms with a contract that everyone on both ends was happy with. We planned out what the season would look like in detail. They even asked about my sister coming on an episode of the show. Casting was almost, if not completely, finalized," he tells E! News.
But everything ended abruptly last weekend. "The decision was made apparently on Sunday, and I was supposed to fly to L.A. Monday and already had all my bags packed. They called me Sunday night and said it wasn't me. I didn't know who the Bachelor was—I found out with the rest of America."
The move was surprising—and though Pell tells us he's doing "fine," he's not pleased with the way the situation was handled.
"I'm fine, I'm content. It's the same as how I left The Bachelorette, unexpectedly. I felt like I didn't deserve that," he says, adding that there's no ill will toward Nick Viall, who ended up being the surprise new Bachelor. "I don't have a problem with it if they think that they have a better candidate for the show, that's fine. But it's the way that it was handled. Asking me to be genuine and authentic and open and vulnerable…and then I don't get genuine and authentic in return from the organization."
As for now, Pell is pleased to be at home in Tennessee and has plenty of plans for the future. "I'm so happy to be back in Nashville," he reveals. "I have a couple entrepreneurial ventures and non-profits I'm working with. I'm also a songwriter. I love what I do, and I loved it before I was ever cast on The Bachelorette. I'm excited, and I'm glad I have so many good friends in Nashville. I'm excited for what the future holds."