Oregon woman one 28 vying for affections of newest Bachelor

Entering its 20th season, “The Bachelor” is one of the most popular reality TV shows of all time. The show, which premiered Monday, Jan. 4 on ABC, contains a little more intrigue for local residents this season, as 2008 West Linn High School graduate Lauren Bushnell is one of 28 contestants vying for the love of this year’s “Bachelor,” Ben Higgins.PHOTO COURTESY ABC - Lauren Bushnell, Alaska Airlines flight attendant and West Linn native, is featured in this season's reality show. 'The Bachelor.'

While the first episode only just aired, filming for the show has already ended, with the winner and results under wraps until the season’s conclusion. That’s meant that Bushnell has been under contractual obligation to withhold information regarding the show from the public until Monday’s airing.

“Beyond just seeing commercials and previews it was the first time I’d watched myself on TV, which isn’t something I thought I’d ever do,” Bushnell told the Tidings following the premier episode. “It’s definitely weird to watch yourself on TV knowing millions of people are watching as well.”

For those unfamiliar, the show is essentially a game aimed at finding love. Twenty-eight women, including Bushnell, will go through a variety of dates, group activities and ceremonies throughout the season in hopes of winning Higgins’ heart. At the end of each episode Higgins awards a specified number of roses to those contestants he wants to keep around for another week, with those that are left out being eliminated from contention. The premier sent seven girls packing, leaving the total number of remaining contestants at 21.

The show, which is scheduled to conclude in the middle of March, leads up to the final four women, who are awarded “hometown dates” where Higgins accompanies each contestant to the place she grew up to meet her family. That means, should Bushnell advance that far, West Linn will be prominently featured on national network television most likely toward the end of February or beginning of March.

Bushnell says she’s already received a great deal of support from the local community, as well as fans of the show. She says her number of followers on Instagram shot up to more than 15,000 after the conclusion of the season premier, and that she’ll have to spend much of the week responding to texts and calls from friends and family.

“I would say 98 percent of people are nothing but supportive, which is weird but also so kind,” Bushnell says. “You also get the very random negative feedback, but I would say for the most part my friends and family have been nothing but supportive.”

Now that the show has started she can at least confirm that she is indeed a contestant and talk openly about what’s aired thus far — something she says has been a massive relief. Frustrated with her difficulties in the Los Angeles dating scene, Bushnell says she decided to sign up for the show not expecting anything to come of it, and was surprised when she found out the show had interest in her. She was told to watch “The Bachelorette,” because the next “Bachelor” would most likely come from the show’s contestants.

When it was announced that Ben Higgins would be the 2016 Bachelor, she says she was sold.

“I’ve always followed the show off and on, but this last season of ‘The Bachelorette’ was the first I watched from beginning to end,” she says. “They only want you to come on the show if it’s a guy you generally would like. After the first episode Ben was my favorite contestant, so when they announced it was him I knew I wanted to be on the show.

“But even then I was never thinking ‘Oh I might meet him someday.’ I was just thinking he was such a catch.”

Bushnell, 25, graduated from West Linn High School in 2008 where she was a member of the cheer team, and went on to graduate from Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - Bushnell was a cheerleader during her time at West Linn High School. Her parents, Kristin and Dave Bushnell, are from Lake Oswego and continue to live in West Linn today, where they raised Lauren and her younger siblings Mollie, Bryant and Brett.

Lauren watched Monday’s premiere with her sister and mother, an experience she says was strange but also comforting. Bushnell was the first girl to meet Higgins during the season premier, giving the 26-year-old software salesman a pair of wings, explaining her background as a flight attendant. While not easy to date the same man alongside 28 other women, Bushnell says Higgins made the whole experience easier.

“I was so nervous, but he definitely has a way of calming my nerves,” she says. “He was easy to be around and easy to talk to. When you see someone on TV, it’s kind of like until you meet them you forget they’re a real human being. But he’s so down to earth and so real.”

While Bushnell can’t divulge how far she made it on the show or even if she won and is still in a relationship with Higgins, Monday’s episode revealed that she at least made it to the second week of the show. Each week’s show culminates in a rose ceremony, where Higgins gives a select number of roses, one-by-one, to the women he wants to continue building relationships with.

Bushnell says the ceremonies are just as nerve-racking as they appear to be on television.

“TV time is a lot different than regular time. I think we stopped filming when the sun was coming up, so the first night was basically an all-night affair. You’re overwhelmed because you’re around so many women and around this guy you want to date,” she says. “The ceremony is a little bit different but it’s similar to how you see it on TV. We really wait for our names to be called, so it’s very nerve-racking. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long, but there were four Laurens on the show so I didn’t want to step down for the wrong one.”

Promos for upcoming episodes included Bushnell and Higgins in an intimate setting at one point, and even showed the 25-year-old shed tears sometime later in the season, something she’s not necessarily looking forward to.

“I saw some clips of me crying so that’s going to be weird watching those types of things,” she says with a laugh. “I never thought that my entire family would see me kissing on television, so I’ve been trying to mentally prepare for that part, but I’m sure I’ll cringe seeing something I consider semi-private. But I made sure not to do anything that would completely embarrass me later.”SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Bushnell family of West Linn -- 'The Bachelor' candidate Lauren Bushnell is second from right -- are all getting to see the footage of the previously filmed program as episodes are unveiled this month and next.

Much of what’s been written about the show online has suggested that Bushnell is the rumored favorite at this point, indicating she could make it far. She says she’s anxious for the rest of the season to air so she can openly talked about all that happened. Whether or not she indeed found true love, though, is still up in the air.

Contact Andrew Kilstrom at 503-636-1281 ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bachelorette Bio

Name: Lauren Bushnell

Age: 25

Job: Flight



West Linn

Current home: Marina Del Rey, Calif.

Twitter: @LaurenBushnell3




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