by Tierney Bricker | Thu., Jul. 25, 2019 12:17 PM
"Falling For a Fraud."
That was just one magazine headline that ran during JoJo Fletcher's season of The Bachelorette in 2016, and it was far from the only one calling her frontrunner Jordan Rodgers' character into question. As soon as the word got out that Jordan, the handsome younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, was going to be a contestant, a target of sorts was placed on his back. And it only got bigger as the season aired and it was clear JoJo, a beloved lead who was coming off of Ben Higgins' season of The Bachelor, was gaga for Jordan.
Rumors were running rampant about his previous dating history, that he might still be on a dating app. An ex-girlfriend alleged he was a "prolific liar and cheater" on social media. The private Rodgers family drama, most notably Aaron's estrangement from the rest of the clan, became dissected by the public, media and sports analyst. Fans flooded Twitter and Instagram with comments questioning if he was there for "the right seasons."
So when Jordan, then 27, got down on one knee on a beach on Thailand, proposing to JoJo, then 25, with a 3.75-carat Neil Lane ring (worth about $100,000), no one expected the young couple to even make it to the After the Final Rose couch still engaged, let alone happy.
"You made me believe that love doesn't need to have a script, that there's not one way to draw it up. It's moments like this, where I'm holding your hand, I'm looking in your eyes, and I know I'm so unbelievably in love with you," Jordan told her. "You're my best friend, you're my soulmate, I'm going to keep you safe, I'm going to protect you. I'm going to wake up every morning and choose you over and over and over again until you tell me I can't."
JoJo, who had just broken up with runner-up Robby Hayes, returned the favor, revealing what so many viewers knew: it was Jordan from the moment he stepped out of the limo, but she never expressed it after she was blindsided by Ben Higgins telling her he loved her only to propose to Lauren Bushnell the prior season.
"I just want to tell you how I feel because I don't know if I've done that fully yet," she said. "Jordan, I love you so much, and I've been waiting to tell you how I feel. I just love you so much...I didn't want you to get down on one knee until you knew that."
But JoJo and Jordan never really got to experience a blissful and carefree honeymoon period...or the Bachelor version of it, which includes secret dates set up by producers for the engaged couple to see each other as the season is airing, where they can cook, play games and just get to know each other away from the cameras and spoiler-loving public.
However, that time was filled with tabloid chatter, endless rumors and negative comments on social media for the couple.
After the proposal aired on Aug. 2, 2016, JoJo and Jordan were finally able to publicly comment on all of the drama and didn't "sugarcoat" how difficult it had been for them after Chris Harrison admitted it hadn't been "the easiest of sailing" when they sat down for their first joint interview on the live After the Final Rose special.
"I don't want to sugarcoat it, it's been difficult it," JoJo admitted, with Jordan adding, "It hasn't been easy, but it's made us that much stronger."
When the headlines first started, JoJo said, "It was hard and it was confusing and neither one of us understood why it was happening."
So rather than believe the rumors, the couple talked. A lot.
"I thought that was a really good part of our relationship, that we were able to communicate and have those conversations that are real-life," Jordan explained. "In the show, you can get caught up in the fantasy dates and the places you're at and that part is amazing, but to have some realness and some tough conversations, we've only been able to grow on that. Since that, communicating with each other and being completely honest with each other, we've taken it to the next level."
JoJo added, " I will say, to be able to get through those things and to know that we love each other so much and we trust each other and we have that mutual respect. He's been nothing but so honest with me."
When Chris Harrison asked if the couple had ever come close to calling it quits because of all the pressure, JoJo said, "That was the one thing that never happened."
Despite their united front and the sparkler on JoJo's finger, no one was betting on Jordan and JoJo to last...something JoJo admitted to believing at one point during an episode of the couple's popular YouTube series, Engaged With JoJo & Jordan.
JoJo confessed she initially thought Jordan would "leave me broken hearted," and bought into the social media comments that questioned his intentions and motivations for being on the show.
"Kinda thought the same thing about Jordan when I met him, and it was a struggle the whole time we were together," JoJo said of one comment wondering if he was in it for the wrong reasons. "I knew how great we were, and how much I cared for him, and I was falling in love with him, but there was something. So this was an example of where I totally judged him."
She continued, "The whole time I had this thought in the back of my head like, ‘Dude this guy's gonna leave me broken hearted.'"
The "right reasons" chatter got even louder when it was reported in July 2016 that Rodgers, a former college football quarterback at Vanderbilt who had briefly played in the NFL, had landed a job as a college football commentator with the SEC Network.
First accused of trading on his brother's name to get on The Bachelorette, people were now accusing Jordan of leveraging reality TV fame for a new job.
"People also attack Jordan on his career or saying he's not good enough or that he has a career because of this show," JoJo said on their YouTube series of the "nasty" comments people made about her beau.
It's funny now, given her runner-up Robby's "f--kboy" tendencies on Bachelor in Paradise and ongoing pursuit of being a social media influencer, but back in 2016, JoJo's family considered Robby to be more ready for marriage than Jordan, and the Bachelorette thought the former swimmer was the "safer choice."
"And [Jordan] has been the safest thing that I have ever experienced in my whole life so, I was wrong," JoJo said.
While Jordan admitted it was "hard" for him to deal with all of the negative comments, he said, "I have an ability to shut certain emotions off if I need to. I try to turn a blind eye to a lot of the negativity."
Courtesy of of TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals
Soon after their season ended and the press died down, Jordan, who had been living in, moved to Dallas to be with JoJo, with the couple immediately moving in together and often posting adorable photos and videos of each other on social media, Chipotle obsession included.
But behind the filters and loving captions and swoonworthy vacations, the couple had a "hard" first year together, which they opened up about in an interview with E! News in October 2018.
"You meet each other in a very different environment and then you get to reality and you're merging your lives together," Rodgers explained. "There was a lot of work that was involved in getting to know each other."
On top of getting to know each other without the romantic and elaborate dates set up by producers, there was still the pressure of millions of people watching them get engaged and expected constant wedding updates.
while they initially started trying to plan a wedding right away, with JoJo even revealing, "I remember telling my producers, 'We're going to plan a wedding, so I don't know if you want in on this, but we're planning it.'"
Then the Bachelor bubble finally burst and reality set in.
Not to mention, the interest in the Rodgers family drama, and what caused the estrangement between Aaron and Jordan, their brother Luke Rodgers and parents, showed no signs of dying down, despite all parties involved refusing to discuss it publicly.
That is until patriarch Ed Rodgers gave a bit of insight into the family divide in a 2017 New York Times interview, saying, "Fame can change things."
He also confirmed that things turned sour between the Super Bowl winner and the rest of his family a "few months" after he began dating actress Olivia Munn, and that the football player has not spoken to his mother, father and two brothers since 2014. "it's complicated, we're all hoping for the best," he said.
"Airing public laundry is not what I would have chosen," Ed Rodgers told The New York Times, but admitted, "It's good to have it all come out."
Aaron mostly avoided addressing the family drama publicly, but it was unavoidable during a pre-game press conference after the article was published.
AP Photo/Kevin Terrell
"I just don't think it's appropriate talking about family stuff publicly," Aaron told reporters ahead of a playoff game.
Jordan, meanwhile, hasn't spoken about his brother in interviews since revealing the rift on the show. But in November 2018, he couldn't resist shading Aaron on Twitter after the NFL star, who is now dating Danica Patrick, shared a video where he asked fans to donate to those affected by the California wildfires.
However, Jordan alleged Aaron failed to check in on his parents, who reside in Chico, Calif.
"PLEASE DONATE, SPREAD AWARENESS & SEND LOVE," Jordan wrote on Twitter along with this brother's message. "But when your own Mom is home alone during the fires, car packed ready to evacuate, & you miss the fundamental first step of compassion; calling your parents to make sure they are safe....Everything else just feels like an act."
(Two weeks later, however, Aaron spent his 35th birthday with his parents.)
Family drama. Wedding planning. Living together. Oh yeah, and getting to know each other. All of that pressure proved to be almost too much for Jordan and JoJo to withstand in their first year together.
At some point, Jordan revealed, "We were drained and I remember one moment we sat down and were like, 'How much more can we take?'"
Close to breaking up, following the trend of so many Bachelor Nation couples calling it quits within the first year, JoJo and Jordan decided, "we want this, we want it to work."
One they removed the pressure of a wedding, JoJo and Jordan were able to relax.
"The reason why our engagement is long," JoJo explained back in 2018, "is because we're enjoying this really great place that we're in and loving life together."
They also focused their attention on their respective careers.
Jordan continues to work as a sports commentator for ESPN and the SEC, and is a co-owner of Met Pro, a nutrition, fitness and lifestyle coach program, and Red Bicycle Coffee, a gourmet coffee company with locations in Nashville.
As the most followed Bachelor alum on social media (2.2 million Instagram followers), JoJo, who worked as a real estate developer before going on The Bachelor, has leveraged her time on the show wisely, slowly building a full-blown lifestyle empire.
After noticing her fans' rabid interest in her outfits, JoJo decided to launch a successful clothing line, Fletch, in 2017.
"She's lovely to work with, everyone loves JoJo," Paul Desisto, a talent agent at Central Entertainment Group who works with JoJo, told E! News. "JoJo is a businesswoman."
The couple also launched their own web series, Engaged with JoJo & Jordan, which has amassed 125,000 subscribers and gave fans an inside look at their life in Dallas.
But over the course of their three-year relationship, JoJo and Jordan were slowly setting the groundwork for their biggest endeavor yet, constantly posting their house-flipping adventures on social media: their own CNBC show Cash Pad, which premiered on July 23, and finds the couple making their official play at taking over the home renovation golden couple mantle vacated by Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Or, as Jordan put it, "We want to be the Beyoncé & Jay-Z of short term rentals."
The show follows JoJo and Jordan as they partner with "homeowners hoping to turn their properties into ideal short-term rentals. JoJo and Jordan will transform these ordinary spaces with unrealized potential into profitable vacation-rental hot spots."
But on the day of Cash Pad's premiere, the couple revealed their biggest project yet: their wedding.
During an interview on Today, they revealed they're tying the knot in the spring or summer of 2020, meaning they will officially become husband and wife almost four years after getting engaged on The Bachelorette.
"We're waiting to find the exact date with our venue, but that's it," Fletcher said. "We're actively planning."
It was the official confirmation fans of the couple were looking for after picking up on a clue Jordan dropped in a recent Instagram post about the couple buying their first house together.
In his caption, he wrote it will be "the first home we will live in as a married couple next year!!"
"She's really stuck with me now," he teased in part of the post, adding that they "couldn't be more excited to start this next chapter in our lives together."
Bachelor curse be damned.
Cash Pad airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CNBC.
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