During his Good Morning America interview April 14, the 29-year-old former football player announced to the world that he is gay. And, as a former contestant on The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise and the star of The Bachelor, Underwood addressed those who may feel he misled the women he was courting on national television.
"I would understand why they think that way," he acknowledged to host Robin Roberts. "I thought a lot about this, too, of do I regret being The Bachelor? And do I regret handling it the way that I did? I do. I do think I could have handled it better. I'll say that."
Among those women, of course, is Randolph, who he ended up dating for less than two years before they announced their breakup in May 2020. Their split played out publicly as Randolph later filed a restraining order against her ex and accused him of stalking and harassing her. Two months later, she asked the court to dismiss the restraining order and they reached "a private agreement to address any of Cassie's concerns," Underwood said in November.
During his GMA interview, Underwood took responsibility for his actions. "I would like to say sorry for how things ended. I messed up," he said. "I made a lot of bad choices."
All this time later, however, he maintains he was in love with her. "That only made it harder and more confusing for me," he told Roberts. "If I'm being very honest, I loved everything about her and it's hard for me to articulate exactly what my emotions were in going through that relationship with her was because I obviously had an internal fight going on."
Ultimately, he acknowledged the part he played. "I would just say that I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart," he continued. "I'm sorry for any pain and emotional stress I caused. I wish it wouldn't have happened the way it did. I wish that I would have been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else."
But, as he candidly shared with Roberts, being picked to lead The Bachelor seemed like a divine answer. "I literally remember praying to God the morning I found out that I was the Bachelor and thanking him for making me straight," he recalled. "I remember that vividly of saying, like, 'Finally you're letting me be straight. Finally you're giving me a wife, a fiancée and then I'm going to have the kids, then I'm going to have the house and then I'm going to have all this.'"
Still, he was suppressing what he knew to be his truth. "I've known that I've been different since the age of 6 and I couldn't process it," the author said, "and I couldn't put my finger on what it was until high school freshman year when I knew I was gay."
Now, nearly three years after his televised journey to find love, Underwood remains grateful for the franchise in a different way.
"I just wish I wouldn't have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was. I genuinely mean that," he said. "But I can sit here and say I'm sorry to all those women. I can also say thank you because without them and without the Bachelor franchise, I don't know if this would have ever came out."