Sometimes, the notion that The Bachelor has been on TV for as long as I have been capable of fully forming adult thoughts is profoundly bewildering. This reality show about manufacturing love — that is extremely unsuccessful at manufacturing love — has been on for almost 16 years and 22 seasons (plus 13 seasons of The Bachelorette)? And tons of people (including me) have willingly watched most of them? Imagine if we had spent all that time doing anything else; we would all be Beethovens right now if we’d used those hundreds of hours to play piano rather than watching what basically amounts to hot-tub-sex propaganda.
And yet, more often, I am utterly grateful for how long The Bachelor has been on. There is a wealth of history that has been built up over these last 16 years, and, just like in baseball and football, past results can be indicative of future ones. Because there are 22 seasons of the show, with each season following the same exact formula, the sample size is large enough for the data to be reliable. The trends of The Bachelor are well established and likely to continue.
There are countless things about The Bachelor that can be studied and analyzed from a statistical standpoint — the success rate of women who receive the first-impression rose, how predictive a contestant’s occupation may be, how many helicopter rides is too many, etc. — but today we are going to look at one factor in particular: height. How tall (or short) have previous Bachelor contestants been? How do their heights correlate to the heights of their respective Bachelors? Is there a target height for optimal success? And which of this season’s contestants appear to be best positioned to win, in terms of tallness?
By the end of this study, you may know who will win Season 22 of The Bachelor, and you will definitely know that Jake Pavelka is relatively shrimpy.
Part 1: Bachelor Stature
As you might notice, ABC has a type: 100 percent of Bachelors have been above average height, which is 5-foot-9.5 in the United States. The shortest man to ever be the Bachelor is the 5-foot-10 Jake Pavelka. Pavelka is widely renowned as the most hated man in series history; these things cannot be unrelated. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that Pavelka ruined things for all shorter men, and that the producers will never pick one to be the Bachelor again. Since Pavelka, the shortest Bachelor has been Juan Pablo Galavis at 5-foot-11. He is probably the second-most-hated man in series history. I repeat: These things cannot be unrelated. ABC is never going to pick a man under 6 feet tall again.
On its own, this collection of data isn’t useful to us right now — file it away for when ABC is searching for the next Bachelor in eight months. However, when Bachelor stature is compared with the heights of winning contestants, we’re able to draw some illuminating conclusions.
Part 2: How Tall Is Your Love?
There are three numbers to pay attention to when it comes to winners’ heights: 63 inches, 65 inches, and 7.45 inches. Sixty-three inches — 5-foot-3 — is the most recurring height found among winners: Jen Schefft, Melissa Rycroft, Catherine Giudici, and Vanessa Grimaldi were all 5-foot-3. That’s 20 percent of contestants, a decent fraction. Even more tellingly, the percentage has risen significantly in recent years: three of the last nine winners of The Bachelor have been 5-foot-3.
Sixty-five inches — 5-foot-5 — is the average height of all Bachelor winners, a helpful number to know when considering the range of possibilities for an ongoing season. There have been outliers over the past 21 seasons of The Bachelor — the very short Shayne Lamas (5-foot-2) won in Season 12 and the very tall Courtney Robertson (5-foot-9) won in Season 16 — but generally speaking, the winning contestants have landed within range of 65 inches.
And then there’s 7.55 inches, the average height differential between the Bachelor and the woman he picks. This may be the number to pay the most attention to, since it’s reasonable to conclude that the Bachelor’s height directly influences which attributes he’s most attracted to. A taller Bachelor is more likely to pick a taller contestant — as Travis Lane Stork (6-foot-4) did when he picked Sarah Stone (5-foot-7) in Season 8 — and vice versa. Height differential may be the strongest indicator of future outcomes on The Bachelor, and a 7–8-inch contrast between the Bachelor and the winner is most likely.
Part 3: The Sweet Spot and Jumping to Conclusions
So what does this tell us about who Arie Luyendyk Jr. will pick in Season 22? First of all, Arie is 6-foot-2, which means his ideal contestant is between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-7. Coming into the season, there were nine women who fell into that height differential sweet spot: Annaliese, Ashley, Becca K., Chelsea, Kendall, Krystal, Lauren S., Marikh, and Tia. All nine of those women have survived the first two episodes of the season. If the stats tell us anything, it’s that the winner of this season will come out of this pool of nine women. Trust me, it is not a coincidence that Chelsea got the first-impression rose during the season premiere (FIR winners make the Final Four about 50 percent of the time), and that Becca K. and Krystal got the first one-on-one dates of the season. (Contestants who get one-on-ones early on in the season historically last 1.5 weeks longer than other contestants.)
But if the winner somehow doesn’t come out of the sweet spot, there are a few other likely candidates. Maquel is currently the only remaining contestant listed at that magic 63 inches tall. This season may not be a good year for the 5-foot-3, however — Arie has already eliminated three contestants at that height. There is something special about 63 inches though — like how the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in even years for a spell — so keep an eye on Maquel.
And finally, don’t sleep on the ladies at or within close range of 65 inches: Bekah M., Brittany T., Jacqueline, Jenna, Lauren B., and Seinne. History says they are standing at an ideal height to win. Jenna and Lauren B. are particularly intriguing subjects, since they both also have blond hair like Emily Maynard, the woman who once dumped Arie on national TV and then further crapped on his feelings by refusing to read the journal that he hand-delivered to her house. They both land in the middle of an interesting Venn diagram of historically proven stats and a man’s lingering emotional issues.
There you go. I recommend flying to Las Vegas and placing bets on this season as soon as possible. Because when it comes to The Bachelor, height never lies.