With all due respect to current lead Colton Underwood and the endless parade of virginity fodder he's provided ABC, Jason Tartick would have been quite the inspired pick for Bachelor.
On paper, the 30-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y. has the type of attributes that constantly make women's wish lists. He has the type of work ethic that led him to notch seven promotions in eight-and-a-half-years ("At 21 I was like, let's build an empire. Let's do this. I'm going to climb the ladder," he shared during an October appearance on Kaitlyn Bristowe's Off the Vine podcast), a solid job as a vice president at Key Corporate & Commercial Bank, athletic skills (he won his hockey state championship in high school and played Division III soccer in college) and enough of a sense of humor to joke about his love of Disney movies in his official Bachelorette bio.
Potentially most intriguing, he shared on Off the Vine that he doesn't have a type. "I have dated everything and anything A to Z and I think that, to me, it's who you are as a person." So while Underwood's cast feels a bit heavy on the 23-year-old blonde quota, Tartick could have courted a wide range of suitors.
(Provided, of course, they were attractive and engaging enough to inspire Twitter debates and market hair gummies, this being The Bachelor and all.)
"I like someone that's sassy, independent, strong-willed, funny, can hold their own and just be really strong," he shared with Bristowe and fellow Bachelor Nation guest Olivia Caridi. "They're not dependent on anybody. And then just someone that's, like, self-motivated. I don't care what it is. I don't care if it's a direction, a passion, a job, a mission, whatever. But someone who wakes up every day and says, 'I'm going to crush this day because of this.'"
Perhaps someone with her own podcast?
Because while Tartick wasn't specifically describing Bristowe in that moment, he was at least cognizant, possibly as he was adding that he needed "someone that can challenge me and say, like, 'Shut the f--k up,'" that the gregarious, self-assured former Bachelorette certainly fit the bill.
It was during the taping, the duo's first face-to-face meeting, that Tartick realized he had a bit of a crush on the 33-year-old Canadian—one that only grew when she revealed days later that she and her final rose recipient Shawn Booth had decided to end their three-year engagement.
And though the banker and the former dancer and spin instructor only just had their first date this past weekend, a certain contingent of Bachelor Nation is shipping this potential new duo hard.
Fortunately, all signs point to the idea that fans won't be left disappointed. While outing number two isn't yet in the books—the initial encounter only came together because Seattle-based Tartick and Nashville resident Bristowe found themselves both in Denver at the same time—it certainly sounds like another one-on-one is in the future. "Kaitlyn and Jason spent the entire weekend together and were inseparable," an insider told E! News. "They had a really good time together and definitely agreed they are compatible."
It's a conclusion a listener might have reached while taking in their first interactions on Off the Vine last October, with the pair bonding from the jump over the similar backgrounds. Though Tartick's native Buffalo is technically on the southern side of the border, its placement, a literal stone's throw from the Great White North earned him honorary Canadian points from Bristowe, who grew up in the Albertan city of Leduc before moving to Vancouver as an adult.
For starters, he added an "eh" to one of his opening lines, causing Bristowe to declare, "Oh, we're going to get along just fine," then shared his decidedly Canadian view of sports.
"You know, we were born in hockey rinks, this is what we do," the varsity hockey captain told Bristowe, whose reported exes include a couple of NHL pros. "Like high school football was nothing, but high school hockey was everything."
Agreed Bristowe, "Everything. I always laugh at Americans and their football."
The twosome also saw eye-to-eye on the bolded, underlined, capitalized important things in life, namely their connections to their families. For Bristowe it was her bond with dad Mike Bristowe, the man who brought her Canadian treats in the wake of her split from Booth. Confessing she had teared up during their pre-show Facetime session, she gushed to Tartick and Caridi, "He is the most beautiful gem of a man you've ever met. He honestly has raised the bar so high for me that, like, I've never been attracted to a douchebag. I've never been attracted to an a--hole. I think my dad taught me what a man should be to a woman."
Same, agreed Tartick, who revealed that seeing his parents' "50-50 relationship" helped crystalize exactly what he was looking for in his own life. And should he ever lose his way, Mom Dale Tartick, who recently joined him for a Guys Tell All segment on The Today Show, and Dad are on hand for daily pep talks. Though his career has always kept him at a physical distance from his folks (in the past decade the "closest I've ever lived to my parents is 764 miles away,") he said he still calls them up for chats every single day. "You can chase titles, you could chase money, you can chase any of that," he opined, "nothing will ever, for me personally, put a smile on my face like my friends and family."
But as for anyone else who might keep him grinning, there had been a dearth of options since Becca Kufrin sent him home from Thailand. There had been that brief period where he thought he'd be the one handing out the roses on ABC's love hunt, followed by his decision to forgo a stint on Bachelor in Paradise. Since then, "I've gone out with friends and met girls out," he shared, "but I haven't gone on an actual, formal, I want to take you out...it's pretty sad, actually."
Unbeknownst to him, Bristowe's personal life wasn't faring much better. Three years after Booth had slipped a Neil Lane sparkler on the ring finger of her left hand, the pair had started talking about skipping right past the made-for-TV wedding and straight into having kids, the personal trainer and founder of Nashville gym Booth Camp telling his bride, "I can't wait to marry you, but the thought of having a baby seems more exciting than the thought of a wedding."
Instead, they decided to pass on both. They announced their split just days after Bristowe's Oct. 30 podcast, breaking the collective hearts of Bachelor Nation, who believed those two crazy kids were simply destined to make it down the aisle no matter how infrequently Booth was double-tapping Bristowe's latest Instagram posts. "I really did think we'd get through it," she would later share with her listeners of their months-long rough patch. Instead, their fundamental differences ("I just don't think we were on the same page—and it's painful to admit that,") came to a head during a fall trip to visit her family in Canada.
"To be honest, I thought we would choose the road where we would end up together," she admitted tearfully. "I just never took our commitment, or being engaged, lightly at all. I had the mindset of doing whatever it took to make it work. And now realizing, maybe to a fault, with all the hard moments in life come life lessons and that's what I need to take from all of this. Sometimes you need to take a moment and take a step back to think about what you are fighting for and if it makes sense for your longterm happiness."
Though understandably devastated and grieving, the bubbly podcast host was doing her best to seek out that sliver of a silver lining. "In a weird way, as much as I was dreading releasing that statement and accepting it was the end, it has let me close the door on that thought of forever and start envisioning my new future ahead, which I am excited about."
At first, she had a hard time grappling with the idea of diving back into the game she thought she had put firmly in her past. As one source put it to E! News, "Kaitlyn isn't in the headspace to start dating again." But when she learned that Tartick was harboring a crush, she couldn't help but be intrigued, the information perhaps giving her the push she needed.
When he called in to her PodcastOne show this month, the day after Underwood's Bachelor premiere she took charge.
"Jason, are you finally going to ask me on a date?" she posed after getting through the obligatory show chitchat, the post-game analysis notably including her mention that she was glad he wasn't picked as lead.
"You're making me blush over here, Kaitlyn," he admitted, before diving in: "I mean, if we're both going to be in the same city at the same time I see no reason why we shouldn't go to dinner or grab drinks. What do you think?"
Her response—"I'm all in"—left Tartick a touch flustered. "My heart is racing over here, my beats per minute are off the chain," he said, before recovering, "It sounds like you're in, so let's do it."
For a man asking out his crush, he sounded reasonably composed, but internally he was giving himself the highest of fives. And when he spoke to ET later, he couldn't stop himself from listing all of the reasons he was stoked to start this journey with her. "She is a down-to-Earth, beautiful woman who has a great sense of humor," he said. "She seems very strong and knows what she wants and empowers women." Plus, he added, "We both love wine!"
Naturally such libations factored in heavily to their date, with both halves documenting their dance- and cocktail-filled outing to live music and piano bar Howl at the Moon followed by a trip to watch the Denver Nuggets best the Portland Trailblazers the following night.
"We killed it, we crushed it, we were on fire," Bristowe summed up of their date on the Jan. 17 edition of her podcast. "We had so much fun at that bar."
The fact that Tartick was willing to sing along to Carly Rae Jepsen's impossibly catchy hit "Call Me Maybe" and participate in a full-on conga line with the rest of the bar patrons earned him major points. "Kaitlyn loves that Jason is on the same page as her in terms of having a lot of fun and they both don't take themselves too seriously," the insider told E! News. "They are both funny and share the same humor."
In fact the only barrier preventing them from being in it for the right reasons official are the 2000-plus miles that separate them, says the insider, "but Jason already wants to make plans to visit Kaitlyn again."
As for Bristowe, she's all in as well. Sure, she never expected she'd be tipping her toe back into the Bachelor franchise. "It's not like I feel above that, it was more just like, okay, I've been there, I've done that. It was really, like, challenging and ups and downs and you go forward and you're like, what's next for me," she rationalized on her show. "I was like, you know what, I'll just be a little bit more private, more low-key. But you can't help who you like."
And with Tartick there was just instant chemistry. "I think the first thing that attracted me to him is that he seemed like a dying breed. They don't make them like him anymore." As she learned more about his close-knit ties to his family and how much he, like her, enjoys having a good time, she realized that maybe, once again, ABC's love hunt was leading her to a perfect match.
"He has the same morals and values as me. And we want the same things. And I think at this point in your life, like, he's 30, I'm 33, we both feel like we're established and where we want to be in our lives and we have the self-love and respect to actually, like, be in a mature, healthy relationship," she shared. And though it feels a bit odd to go from being an engaged woman "to thinking of somebody as your boyfriend," here she is. "I would be upset if he was dating anyone else and I think he would be upset if I was dating anyone else."
So, exclusivity talk? Check. And with any luck he'll once again be passing on a trip to Mexico this summer, having previously told Bristowe he's optimistic that he won't have to try his luck on Paradise with the rest of the franchise alum. "I hope I find someone and I'm happy before then," he said.
And just maybe he'll make Bristowe's now somewhat prescient October prediction come true. With the trio taping on the eve of Tartick's milestone birthday, he admitted to having some reluctance about entering a new decade, hesitations that she quickly brushed aside. "I'm excited for you to turn 30," she him. "I think it's going to be the best year of your life."