It's only been a week since bachelor Ben Higgins commenced his quest for true love on ABC's "The Bachelor," but this season "Perfect Ben" isn't just thinking about himself.
Fans of the show fell hard for Higgins after he vied for the affections of Kaitlyn Bristowe on "The Bachelorette" last season. He left the show without the final rose, which would go to suitor Shawn Booth, and Higgins returned to life as a software salesman. That was till he was lured back to primetime as this seasons bachelor.
On the surface it may appear the 6-foot-4, 27-year-old hunk is simply looking for a soul mate in an unconventional dating environment, but just when fans thought Ben couldn't get any more perfect, he does. He has a philanthropist side that he literally wears just below his sleeve.
"I was back in my hometown of Warsaw, Indiana doing my prepackage for the show, and a guy that goes to church with me called up and said, 'Would you like to come and check out my bracelets?'" Higgins revealed to HNGN and a small group of reporters at an ABC event for Television Critics Association in Pasadena, Calif., over the weekend.
"He explained that [for] every bracelet sold, this organization, MudLOVE, donates money for African water wells. So he gave me a bracelet with my favorite word on it, 'Hope,' and I walked out. A lot of people ask a lot of 'The Bachelor' in terms of what to wear and to do, but he didn't even ask me wear it," added Higgins.
During the car ride home, Higgins decided that small gesture would be repaid tenfold and he would wear the bracelet for his entire run as "The Bachelor."
It appears the deed has paid off, and in addition to looking for love, Higgins and the nonprofit he's already involved in, Humanity and Hope United, will be joining forces with MudLOVE to donate $2 from the sale of every bracelet to help fill jobs in Honduras.
"It's really great because when you see something small, and someone does something without asking for anything in return. I hope that turns into something big," says Higgins. "People get food and water and jobs and a life for their family based on some crazy bracelet I wore on the show."
The Bachelor airs tonight at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. For more of our conversation with Bachelor Ben, continue reading below.
So lets cut to the chase. Who do you pick, and are you happy?
OK, let's start with that, that's easy. Then we'll backtrack (laughs).
Is it weird being the person picking and not being picked?
Well, I know I'm going to be around (laughs). That's nice, but the difference between it is a lot. One of the biggest things is you get to see every date. When we travel I actually get to see the cities, more than I did on the other side. I know I'm going to be around, but that adds this whole other level of stress. I mean I could talk about the differences all night.
How do you keep track of everyone you are dating, do you have a notebook or something?
It's all up here (points to his head). It's mainly mental notes, but I do have a journal with me so I will try to jot down the conversations at night, just mainly topics so I can remember, but also things I want to think about like some of the bigger questions that are brought up.
Do you believe in this concept in that there is one person choosing rather than two?
Well, here was my goal on night one. When I walked into the room I wanted to put everything at the women's feet and say this is a two-way relationship, this isn't about me being "The Bachelor" and nor should it be, but if I give you a rose and you don't feel this is working, you have every right to say no. If you feel like it's working and I offer you a rose, and assuming they say yes, I'm assuming this relationship is going in a direction they appreciate and enjoy. But yes, I am the bachelor, but it never puts me in a place of leadership or dictatorship. This is a two-way relationship - always.
Having finished the season do you look back at that journal?
Yes, I have one for "The Bachelorette" and one for "The Bachelor," so I look back and then I do close it really quickly because I just don't want to read this anymore.
Are there red flags that you saw when you looked back?
Like I hate her, I hate her (laughs). That would've been a red flag! No, mostly the journal I have set up is: I would write down the date, who was on that date, what we did, to remember, then just the key topics. Along with follow-up questions I might have had. I really wanted to ask follow-up questions to get to know these women the best I could right away, that way I would never look back and think I made a mistake there. I feel very early on I got to know the women the best I could in the time allowed.
What are the pros and cons of a relationship formed like this?
It is untraditional, I don't think my grandpa whose 90th birthday I am going to next week would look at this and go, "Yeah, when I was a kid this is how..." I get that, but so are dating apps and websites. Even going into a bar is different than it was 100 years ago. There are so many different ways to meet people today. This does have its problems. Personally I got to meet a lot of incredible women, and the women also knew who they were coming to date. When they showed up to the mansion they knew they were getting to meet me, so they could look up anything they wanted and my backstory. At some level they could say I at least find an interest in this man. As I got to know these women, I got to know a bunch of different women from different backgrounds and places in the world, that's a pro. That doesn't always happen in life. There are cons because it's not easy to date multiple women at once.
How do the cameras impact that?
It's interesting, at first, and I think the women could speak better about it now, but when I did "The Bachelorette," that first night is insane. It's hard and sometimes awkward, you're sitting there and there's a camera around, but it's life and they kind of just move with you. It's hard at first, but you get used to them very quickly. My goal with the women was when we were in conversation I could tell their eyes were trained to spot where everyone was at. I said take a second and a deep breath, look around, that's fine, see your surroundings, and I think it made it easier. That's just life, life with cameras is different, but it's life.
Could you see yourself doing more television after this?
I'm just open to what's next. I will say that, but I'm not thinking about that a lot right now as this just premiered. This is very much my life right now, and I want to make sure I enjoy it and soak up every opportunity. I get to go to parties with some of my favorite people from TV, and I don't want to be thinking about what could be next. If nothing is next, I'm OK with that. I've got sales, I had a great life, and I'm fine taking that and living it.
Have you had conversations with Kaitlyn since you filmed, and how are those conversations different from before you started filming?
Shawn is one of my best friends, he was on the season and even afterwards, so I'm really happy for them, and they came on "Bachelor Live" last week. It was the first time I'd seen both of them in person since saying goodbye to Kaitlyn, and they are so happy and supportive of me. They're really two of the most incredible people I've ever met, and we have a great friendship. That's what I like, anytime you have a breakup and you can stay friends and have respect for each other, I think life is better.
Do you think too much stock is put on the happy ending in the show and there having to be a marriage? Isn't the purpose of the show really to bring you together?
When I talked to my family and friends and told them I was asked to be "The Bachelor," my comment to all of them was this isn't dating in a vacuum to me. If at the end I don't feel like this woman is the right one for me for the rest of my life, I will not be proposing, and I'm OK with that. But yes, the show does give you an opportunity to meet somebody, great, but it isn't dating in a vacuum, and there is no forced marriage at the end. If it was, it would be too weird and I would never have done it.
What do you think of yourself when you watch yourself?
It's a whole array of emotions. Sometimes I have that feeling of, oh Ben, you can do this. But I am learning things about myself like little quirks that I have. I noticed the other day that when I approached the women I say, "You guys" a lot. They're not guys, they're girls. I know that now, but I wish I could've watched it back then. So there are those kinds of things. But honestly I try to stay true to myself, and I felt like I did. If I do, then watching shouldn't be as hard.
But are you the perfect Ben?
I'm not perfect by any means (laughs).
Do you have a stylist for the show or is this all you?
There's a really great man named Cary Fedman who's the stylist that helps me out. What he does I really appreciate, because I wear a lot of henleys and T-shirts and jeans, so I'll meet with him and he'll make sure whatever clothes I'm wearing matches my lifestyle but will just enhance it. Like adding a pocket square with a suit jacket, I've never worn one until the show. Now I do.
With regard to the bracelet, what is about the word "Hope" you like?
Everybody needs a little hope.