Shawntel - who first appeared on our screens on Brad Womack's season of The Bachelor - recently spoke to reporters about her decision to return, relationship with Ben, and that reaction from the women:
What were your conversations with Ben like before the show?
"When he was on Ashley's season I made it really clear and apparent I had a crush on him on Twitter, sending posts out saying, 'I want to meet this guy, I really like him'. He sent me a message on Twitter so we were both kind of private messaging each other back and forth. We exchanged numbers and I was kind of embarrassed like, 'Oh my gosh, I didn't know you had Twitter! You're not supposed to be reading this!' We had some good conversations, getting to know each other little bit. As he lives in San Francisco and I live in Chico, we were like, 'Oh, we should meet up some time and get to know each other even more'. It never happened but we continued texting or talking and then I didn't hear from him as much and I learned he was becoming the next Bachelor so it made sense why we weren't talking as much."
Did Ben say anything to you in those conversations that would have led you to believe you might have got a rose when you arrived?
"Our conversations were really good, there was a connection there, and I know he felt the same way. Unfortunately with me going in on the third cocktail party he played by the rules and he felt, I believe, that it was very unfair to the other girls. To defend him, yes it was unfair, but I'm sorry, the whole situation is unfair. You're trying to compete for a guy and what's one more girl? On the show I said, 'You need to set that aside, set being fair and everything aside. This is someone you'll potentially marry and I don't think fair really comes into play'.
"I went in there thinking I would get a rose because I knew he felt something for me too but unfortunately I went in on the third cocktail party. I don't regret doing it but I was surprised. When he said goodbye to me he said it just wasn't fair and I thought, 'Well, you're doing me a favour now'."
Had you thought about doing the whole Bachelor process again or did you call in too late to arrive before the third week?
"I believe Ben said something like, 'If Shawntel was there in the beginning it would have been different'. Unfortunately it was too late for me to do that. Not only did I have reservations here in Chico, but as the time went on I knew they were getting started on their journey and it was, 'Well, there it goes, that's okay, I'm not going to do it'. Then it weighed on me and I wanted to know if it was too late. They'd had Ben filming for many days and I talked to Chris and he said they were coming up on their third rose ceremony. I wanted to know if there was any chance I could risk doing it. He helped me in making it happen.
"It is unfortunate that it had to be the third rose ceremony because I knew there would be even more tension. There probably would have been less tension if I'd come on the first night with the other girls, but regardless, they still would have been upset I was there. It really didn't matter when I came, I don't think. I went into the third cocktail party [and] I didn't think anyone was in love with him yet so I didn't feel I was stepping on too many toes, but I've been in that situation before and it's uncomfortable and you're vulnerable.
"I hoped Ben would be focused on us and what we had, but I think he was focused more on the other girls and their feelings, and he kind of put his own aside. I was surprised by that because the whole point of the show is to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. I was surprised the girls were that surprised by me because, I'm sorry, throughout all these seasons something happens. There are always surprises! If I was there I would have been upset but I would have been secure enough in what I had with him to not worry if five other girls showed up. That's why I felt those girls were so harsh to me - a lot of insecurities came out. I think when Ben watched on Monday he was taken back and surprised they treated me so poorly."
Did you have an idea Ben would be The Bachelor or were you blindsided?
"I had ideas that he would be asked because I knew he was top two. He wouldn't talk to me a whole lot about it but I'd say things like, 'Oh my gosh, we need to meet before you make this decision!' but it just never happened. I don't blame him for wanting to be The Bachelor. You know you'll have all these different options. I think for us it was bad timing. When I didn't hear from him a whole lot I kind of knew he'd made the decision. I backed off because I wasn't going to go back on the show and do it that way, then as the days went on, I thought he might be engaged in a couple of months so I want to at least meet him in person and explore it a little bit more. So I called Chris."
How were you feeling as you went into the rose ceremony?
"At that moment at the rose ceremony when there was one rose left and Jaclyn, Erica and myself, I knew I was going home. I could see it in his face and I knew he was uncomfortable when Courtney went up to him. She was up there for a while and I knew she basically gave him an ultimatum - I think she called me 'what's her butt', which is not easy to hear - saying, 'If you keep Shawntel, I'm out' and I think a lot of those girls felt that way. Standing up there I knew I was going home.
"When he escorted me out... all I could say to him was good luck because I was so emotionally drained from all the girls. I had two minutes with him and it was all so crazy and I had no words. In the end, Ben did me a favour. One, if I'd stayed, it would have been more intense, and also I think he already had connections with some of the girls and he didn't want to ruin that."
Were you surprised by how the women reacted?
"Oh my gosh, I was beyond surprised. I expected going into the cocktail party to have some, or, probably all of the girls upset with me or a little confused. I'd be thinking the same way, 'Oh, this sucks, here comes another girl just to add more tension'. But I didn't expect to get that reaction. It was really, really uncomfortable to sit there and have 15 really pretty girls pick on me. I felt like the kid in the playground that everyone picks in. It was like out of the movie Mean Girls and I wasn't expecting that.
"To my face I had girls say some really harsh things and watching on Monday hearing girls comment on my body image saying I'm uglier in person or I'm a bitch, there is nothing that could have prepared me for that and it wasn't easy to watch. The tension was so intense and I wasn't expecting that. I was hurt by all the comments that were made. There was not really one thing that was said that was nice."
What do you think of Courtney?
"As I'm watching, I think Ben makes it very, very clear that he is kind of head-over-heels for her. It really didn't surprise me when she went up there and told him, basically, that it wasn't easy, and that if I stayed she is out. I think that was the biggest influence Ben had and a huge reason why I went home. I think he has very much been falling in love with her and I feel he could end up choosing her in the end, which is very surprising considering how she acted with me, which wasn't the classiest. When I got sent home she laughed and said something like 'sayonara'. I think he was completely surprised by the way even Courtney reacted with me when I showed up."
Are you dating again now?
"I'm dating. Chico is a small town! This was a couple of months ago and I didn't go on the show thinking I was in love with Ben or anything so it wasn't so hard to get over. The hardest part for me was the emotional side with the girls and coming home feeling like a little kid getting picked on. That took some time to get over. I'm going back to school this coming semester to get into the masters programme. I'm at the funeral home and I love it there, I love my Chico community. Things are good and it was just another risk I was willing to take. I don't regret it at all and hopefully it showed people to take risks, even with love. I tried and unfortunately it didn't work out - and I got picked on in the middle of it!"
Would you be interested in Ben say it doesn't work out?
"I wouldn't be interested. I think he's a good person. Friendship, possibly, I'd hope to be a friend but after that whole situation… I know people can crack under pressure. I said that on camera. That to me was such a setting that either he could make it to where I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, this is the guy I want to be with the rest of my life because he's keeping me and he did feel something', or the way it went.
"I want a man who will set the fair aside and keep me among all these other women too. No, I wouldn't be [interested], just because in that situation him sending me home was like, 'OK, if he won't do it there, I'm not going to come back to it!' So, no, I wouldn't."
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC
> Chris Harrison struck by "meanness" towards Shawntel
> Shawntel Newton on Bachelor return: 'I have no regrets'