TELEVISION Austin bachelor says city was a safe-haven when America hated him
Brad Womack chose neither finalist in last year's season of 'The Bachelor,' causing a backlash among fans, but public opinion has softened
By Andrea Lorenz AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, July 25, 2008
When Austin bar owner Brad Womack declined to propose to either woman on last fall's season of the ABC television show "The Bachelor," he left two women with broken hearts.
But their distress was nothing compared to the scorn felt by fans of the show, as Womack soon found out. Ah, but Internet-strewn wrath can quickly change. During the course of last season's "The Bachelorette," which starred DeAnna Pappas, one of Womack's broken-hearted, Internet chat rooms and message boards stopped dissing the Austinite. Where once there was vitriol, there was compassion, as America saw that the "perfect" woman Womack declined was not quite so.
Throughout the season, Pappas had some memorable tearful outbursts and shocked viewers by choosing a snowboarder to marry over a solid single dad.
For the past year, Womack has been avoiding the dating scene — and the Internet. Instead he's been building his businesses, which include four downtown bars and a new one in the works. We caught up with him to find out how life post-"The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" was treating him.
Austin American-Statesman: After 'The Bachelor,' did your bars generate more business?
Brad Womack: Yeah, absolutely. It was so interesting to see such a dramatic increase, and you know, just people coming in and wanting to say hi and give me their opinion on my decision.
Were people mad at you?
Obviously, nationwide so many people were so upset. I mean, I would look on some Web sites, and, God, I was Public Enemy No. 1 for a while, but I am so thankful to say, here in Austin, anyone I've encountered in person has been so supportive and so positive.
Did you think that people were going to be upset?
I knew that I was putting myself in the hot seat. I know that people want a great ending.
Because it's 'The Bachelor'! You have to choose!
I know, but the thing is, it is real life. I don't know if people give it enough credit for actually being real. People have to understand that I was expected not only to propose but to move this woman into Austin and start this relationship right away after what I considered seven very short weeks, and I didn't have those feelings — why not be forthright and honest?
Watching what the edited version of it was — to see someone turn down these seemingly two perfect women — kind of symbolized in our generation what seems like a search for perfection. When that happened, I'm like, 'Is nobody good enough for you?!'
Oh no. Well, OK, ouch. I'll tell you this. First of all, I don't think there is perfect, and I'm far from perfect. I'm definitely not looking for perfection.
I've noticed on the Internet boards — the same ones that were slamming you — after 'The Bachelorette' aired, that they're very sympathetic to you now. It seems like America has turned — 'We understand him now.'
I'm glad you noticed that because I've got to be honest. After, I was so, just, trashed, so I stopped going on the Internet. Then I started receiving countless letters, e-mails, phone calls from various people saying, "You might want to check this out." The tides have turned. All I can say is, I hope people have a little bit more insight that I know DeAnna very, very well, I know Jenni very, very well, and maybe I knew them better than all of America did and that's what helped me in my decision. What America saw were these edited, two very perfect people — and they're great. I'm not saying a negative thing about them — but it was so refreshing to see the tides did turn, and I was so grateful.
Did you watch 'The Bachelorette'?
Absolutely. Every episode.
Did you get upset, or did you feel anything at all when jabs were taken at you by her and them?
I knew I had this feeling that I was going to get beat up this season; I mean, she's due. She has every right. I thought I'd get a little bit more support from the guys, but no, not at all.
On the 'After the Rose' episode, she did say, 'I've never had so much sympathy for Brad Womack in my life.'
I sent her a text message right away when I saw it because I was shocked. I said, "Look, thank you so much." Just to have her say that and air that on national television made me feel so good. That the one woman that kind of scorned me all season said, "OK, now I get it." Immediately she sent a message back, "Hey, I meant it, and I hope you're happy," and it was almost kind of closure, so to speak.
So what is this new venture you're up to now?
We're looking at a new bar right now in Austin. I want to be in this city for a while, so the more things that keep us busy, the better.
I'm glad Austin was nice to you, then.
Me, too. I can truly say this: If this city would've turned on me, I don't know if I could've survived. I kind of lived on that support for a little while. The immediate month after the decision was rough; I almost became a recluse in my own house. I didn't want to go anywhere; I didn't want to do anything. I knew it was going to be rough, I didn't know it was going to be that rough. And I had Ellen DeGeneres calling me a jerk. I'm thinking, "My life is over." But you know, things come and go, so I'm old news. Thank God. firstname.lastname@example.org
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