The worst-kept secret in Bachelor Nation is at long last "official," as ABC finally announces Clayton is the star of season 26 of The Bachelor.

Breaking news, rose lovers: Frozen water is called "ice," snakes don't have feet, and Clayton Echard will star on season 26 of The Bachelor.

Though Variety first reported that Clayton would be the franchise's next leading man back in September, and paparazzi photos of his season have leaked regularly since, ABC just announced Clayton's Bachelor coronation at the end of tonight's episode of The Bachelorette.

Clayton was eliminated on the Nov. 23rd episode of The Bachelorette. Before his tearful goodbye to Michelle, the 28-year-old medical sales rep from Missouri didn't make much of an impression on the viewing audience — though he did appear to be very strong. For example:

Bachelorette gif
Clayton throws a log.
| Credit: ABC

ABC and Warner Bros., which produces the Bachelor franchise, waited a full week after Clayton's elimination to announce him as Bachelor — and they seemed to enjoy playing the "they know we know they know" game. Last week's episode ended with Kelsey — one of the kids Michelle recruited to vet her suitors — answering questions from a producer about Clayton. "What do you think is next for Clayton?" she asks, to which Kelsey cheekily replies:

Bachelorette GIF
Kelsey knows what's up
| Credit: ABC

Out of the mouths of babes, right? No way to know whether Clayton's season will be interesting, but the teaser did deliver one of the all-time best Bachelor cry faces. Behold:

Bachelor grab
Girl, what?
| Credit: ABC

So, rose lovers, are you happy this very obvious cat is finally out of the bag? Post your thoughts below!

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