ABC/Craig Sjodin

ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) — The Bachelor kicked off its milestone 25th season on Monday, with Matt James, a 29-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder from Raleigh, North Carolina, meeting the record-breaking 32 women who are vying to be his future wife.

With the usual Bachelor Mansion in Agoura Hills, California currently being used as an Airbnb rental because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new season was moved to The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, which is not far outside of Pittsburgh.

Matt is also the first Black Bachelor, and he was feeling the “pressure” that comes with that.

“My mom is white and my dad is Black, and I experienced what it was like to be a product of an interracial marriage,” he explained.  “And it’s tough, because you’ve got people who have certain views — old school views — on a relationship and what love looks like. And you’ve got people who are cheering for you to find love and people who are cheering for you to end up with…a specific person of a specific race.”

He remarked, “That’s something that kept me up at night. I don’t want to p*** off Black people, I don’t want to p*** off white people, but I’m both of those. How do I please everybody?”

As always, his potential suitors wasted no time in making what they hoped would be a lasting first impression.

For instance, there was Kaili, a 26-year-old hostess from Chicago who arrived wearing nothing but her underwear, explaining that she was “sitting in her hotel room figuring out what to wear” and realized she “didn’t know anything about” Matt. She brought a pair of dresses along with her and asked him to pick the one he preferred.

Then there was Katie, a 29 year-old bank marketing manager from Renton, Washington, who pulled out an adult toy that “had gotten me through the pandemic,” and would now “pass the torch” to Matt.

Victoria, 27, whose bio describes her as “a queen from Los Angeles, California,” arrived in royal fashion — carried by two men and wearing a tiara.

After the introductions and an opening prayer, delivered by Matt, the ladies jockeyed for some alone time with the eligible bachelor in hopes of scoring the first rose.

However, it was Abigail, a 25-year-old client financial manager from Beaverton, Oregon, who made Matt “go blank” as soon as he heard her name and he handed her the first impression rose.

Abigail, who was born deaf and can only hear with the aid of a cochlear implant, struck Matt as a “fighter,” who also possessed the “vulnerability” he expected from the women.

The women remaining after the first rose ceremony are as follows:

Abigail, 25, a client financial manager from Beaverton, Oregon.
Alana, 26, a photographer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Anna, 24, a copywriter from Chicago, Illinois.
Bri, 24, a communications manager from San Francisco, California.
Chelsea, 28, a runway model from Brooklyn, New York.
Illeana, 25, a health food developer from New York City.
Jessenia, 27, a social media marketer from San Antonio, Texas.
Kaili, 26, a hostess from Chicago, Illinois.
Katie, 29, a bank marketing manager from Renton, Washington.
Khaylah, 28, a healthcare advocate from Durham, North Carolina. 
Kit, 21, a socialite from New York City.
Kristin, 27, an attorney from Jersey City, New Jersey.
Lauren, 29, a corporate attorney from Miami, Florida.
Magi, 32, a pharmacist from Adwa, Ethiopia.
Mari, 24, a marketing director from Odenton, Maryland.
Marylynn, 28, an event coordinator from Studio City, California.
MJ, 23, a hairstylist from Hudson, Ohio.
Pieper, 23, a graduate student from Happy Valley, Oregon.
Rachael, 24, a graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia.
Sarah, 24, a broadcast journalist from San Diego, California.
Serena C., 24, a flight attendant from San Francisco, California.
Serena P., 22, a publicist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Sydney, 28, a marketing specialist from Nashville, Tennessee.
Victoria, 27, a queen from Los Angeles, California.

The Bachelor returns Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

By George Costantino
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