North Carolina fans of “The Bachelor” have even more reasons to watch the new season when it starts on ABC Monday: two local women are vying for Colton Underwood’s heart.
As we reported in October, the 2018 Miss North Carolina USA, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, and Meredith grad Nina Bartula will appear in the three-hour premiere on Jan. 7. They’ll be two of 30 women who will work to get a rose from the former NFL tight end in hopes of moving on to the next episode.
“The Bachelor” airs from 8 to 10 p.m. Mondays through March.
Here’s what we know about the two women, and about the new bachelor.
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ABC’s website lists Caelynn, 23, as living in Charlotte and growing up in Fredricksburg, Va., but articles from her pageant days list her as being from Asheville — most likely because she won the Miss NC USA pageant as Miss Asheville. On the first episode, Caelynn tells Colton that she’s from Virginia but moved to North Carolina “about a year ago” (“The Bachelor” started filming in late September).
We also know that she graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in broadcast journalism.
The former Miss Asheville won the Miss North Carolina USA title in October 2017 (note that this is not the same as the Miss North Carolina pageant — Miss NC USA sends winners to the Miss USA pageant, and that winner goes to the Miss Universe pageant; Miss North Carolina sends winners to the Miss America pageant).
Speaking of Miss USA, Caelynn was first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant in May 2018. At the Miss USA pageant, she spoke about being a survivor of sexual assault and about being an advocate for sexual assault victims.
Caelynn missed crowning the new Miss North Carolina USA in October because she was on location filming “The Bachelor.”
Does she wear a pageant sash when she meets Colton? Affirmative. Is she the only pageant queen on this season? Nope. Miss Alabama is on the show and internet rumors indicate they are not BFFs.
According to ABC, Nina was born in Croatia and moved to the United States with her mom when she was 9 years old, “fleeing the conflict there amidst bullets and bombs.” Nina told ABC that she has watched “The Bachelor” with her mother and grandmother for years.
Nina, 30, is a sales account manager for Cisco, according to her LinkedIn profile. She is a 2011 graduate of Meredith College.
Colton is a former tight end for the San Diego Chargers and first entered the “Bachelor” universe when he appeared in Season 14 of “The Bachelorette,” falling hard for Becca Kufrin, but being rejected by her in the season finale.
Just before he appeared on “The Bachelorette,” Colton had an off-screen relationship with Tia Booth from the Arie season of “The Bachelor.” Tia visited “The Bachelorette” (she and Becca were both on the Arie season) and Tia told Becca about her fling with Colton, and indicated that she still had feelings for Colton. Despite the fact that Colton blamed Tia for sabotaging his chances with Becca, the relationship with Tia resumed briefly on the most recent season of “Bachelor in Paradise,” but Colton abruptly broke up with Tia and left the show.
During his brief time on “Bachelor in Paradise,” Colton was obviously not over Becca. Colton, coincidentally, was famous on his season of “The Bachelorette” for being a virgin (and that status had not changed, as of the season premiere).