If you thought you were getting good at predicting The Bachelorette, you might be in for a reality check, because a man nicknamed “Meatball” is about to stir up a ton of drama on Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey’s journey to find love. (Yes, you read that right.) James “Meatball” Clarke had a pretty tame entrance to the mansion, but a promo for the rest of the season shows a different, more dramatic future, for this Italian food enthusiast.
On Night 1, James came out of the limo carrying a super-long meatball sub that immediately gained Rachel and Gabby’s attention — Gabby even joked, “You handle those balls well.” He got some laughs from the men, too, for his fantastical entrance, but didn’t make much more of an impression on the two leads. Due to Gabby and Rachel’s unprecedented move to cancel the first rose ceremony and quietly dismiss only three contestants, James is still in the running for their love.
All seems to be going well for James — who is actually a real estate broker IRL — but a promo for the upcoming episodes gives fans another look at him. In it, James brings Gabby and Rachel’s fear to life by rejecting a rose from Rachel and declaring that he’s only there for Gabby. Wether Gabby reciprocates his feelings remain to be seen.
Here’s what else to know about him:
James “Meatball” Clarke’s Job
James’ ABC bio may say he works as a “meatball enthusiast,” but unfortunately for everyone, that isn’t a real job. According to his LinkedIn, James actually works in finance and is on the way to getting his MBA at DePaul University. He also got his real estate broker license in 2019, so that very popular Bachelor Nation career could be next for him post-show — that is, of course, if his career in meatball enthusiasm doesn’t take off.
James “Meatball” Clarke’s Family & Hometown
James grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, where he played basketball through high school. It seems James might actually be pretty good at basketball, too — in 2018, he posted a photo of himself in a jersey and shorts, presumably playing basketball in Barcelona.
James grew up with his parents, Kathleen and Glen, as well as two sisters, Grace and Elizabeth. Family is clearly very important to James; his ABC bio even says he wants six children — that’s a lot of meatballs.
James “Meatball” Clarke’s Age
James is 25, a year younger than Rachel, and six years younger than Gabby. His birthday isn’t publicly available so fans can’t get the scoop on his astrological chart unless it comes up in the show — fingers crossed, astrology girlies!
James “Meatball” Clarke’s Instagram
James tends to post family pics, birthday shoutouts, and #TBTs to his basketball days on social media. He posts with location tags in both Los Angeles and Chicago, where he’s getting his MBA, so he could end up in either place post-show.
James “Meatball” Clarke’s Bachelorette Journey
James was originally cast for Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette but, for unknown reasons, didn’t show up at the mansion until now.
Fast-forward to Season 19, James didn’t make a huge impression on Gabby or Rachel — other than his meatball sub, of course — in the premiere episode, but a promo for future episodes showed an ominous future for this Chicago-based contestant. Even before James could exit the limo with his wingspan-length meatball sub, the promo showed James making a very controversial choice.
In the clip, James is about to receive a rose from Rachel, but he declines it, saying he’s actually there for Gabby. Fans have yet to find out where in this season this rose ceremony happens or what will occur after he declines the rose. They’ll just have to wait and see how things shake out for ol’ Meatball.