LOS ANGELES — ABC’s “The Bachelor” says he’s willing to take the heat for dumping Becca Kufrin to find true love with runner-up Lauren Burnham.
“Would I do it all again and face this scrutiny to be with her? Absolutely,” Arie Luyendyk Jr. said Wednesday during a teleconference with reporters.
His decision to break up with Kufrin during Monday’s season finale after he’d proposed drew headlines including the words “horror,” ”brutal” and “gut-wrenching.”
Luyendyk defended the spectacle of ending their engagement on network TV.
“I wanted everyone to know that the breakup was on me and that I made a mistake,” he said, adding that the relationship started on camera and it was appropriate to end it there.
He speculated his ex might even be thankful for it.
Although she handled it graciously for the show, Kufrin unloaded afterward about having her romantic dreams publicly crushed.
“It was like a slap in the face,” she told People magazine. But she defended Luyendyk, sort of, saying she didn’t think he threw her over for Burnham to “maliciously to break my heart.”
She got a boost from billboards reportedly put up by fans in her native state: “Becca, you’ll always have a rose from Minnesota,” one digital message proclaimed.
Kufrin, whose consolation prize is starring in the next season of “The Bachelorette,” was to have joined in the ABC conference call but dropped out for scheduling reasons, the network said.
That left Burnham to defend her man, who’d proposed to her on Tuesday’s “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose” after reaching out to her behind the scenes while engaged to Kufrin.
Burnham called Luyendyk her “soulmate” but admitted some hesitancy in accepting his change of heart.
“It did take some reassurance, but the fact he was willing to take that risk meant a lot to me,” she said. She’s moving from Texas to Arizona to be with Luyendyk as they plan their wedding.
She said she “feels” for Kufrin and is eager to see her as the next “Bachelorette.”
Luyendyk said he stands by the outcome and his happiness.
“I could have done things in a different way, for sure. But ultimately I needed to do what was best for me.”
LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer