THE BACHELOR Matt James "picked the wrong woman" and was ultimately "failed" by the controversial dating show, a friend exclusively told The Sun.
Matt, who recently slammed "racist" comments and behavior from finalist Rachael Kirkconnell and longtime host Chris Harrison, will reveal his winner on the ABC hit's finale next week.
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The friend said the former football star, 29, "was under so much pressure over who to choose," and ultimately made a bad pick.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
As The Sun previously reported, Matt chose and "happily dated" Rachael, but later "blindsided and dumped" her as racism allegations emerged in the public eye.
But a pal thinks he should have chosen Minnesota teacher Michelle Young, 27, out of the final three, which also includes Bri Springs, 24.
The friend explained to The Sun: "I felt Michelle was his best match, and they seemed like they connected. She's as silly and quirky as he is, and athletic and fun.
"I really think if he had met Michelle outside of the show, she would have been the one for him."
As Matt failed to find love on the show, the hit series also "failed" him, the friend insisted.
The pal felt the network had a "great opportunity" when they cast Matt as the first Black Bachelor, but said producers "failed" him and the female contestants when they cast current and past Bachelor Nation stars despite "racist" behavior.
She said: "They took several steps backwards because they didn't do enough research. Research that seemed pretty simple."
The source also condemned Chris' response to Rachael's photo scandal, when he seemingly defended her behavior to former Bachelorette and Extra! host Rachel Lindsay.
The friend said: "The way Chris handled [Rachael's scandal] shows they just wanted a Black face but no parts of the Black experience.
"I think Chris's run should be over. Not his career, but his time on this show should probably be done.
"There's a lot of self work he needs to do and it's not up to Black people to teach him where he's lacking.
"Matt shouldn't have been placed in that situation, to be bigger than the entire network, though his statement was great."
Matt broke his silence regarding the recent controversy in an Instagram post, calling the scandal "incredibly disappointing," "devastating" and "heartbreaking."
He went on: "Chris' failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch.
"As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short of addressing adequately for years."
"I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end."
The star's friend said those close to him are "incredibly proud" of him for addressing the situation, and hope he never gets back together with Rachael,
The friend added: "I had stopped watching The Bachelor years ago, but tuned in especially for Matt. He is the sweetest.
"I see him moving on the way he always has, with his head held high and his ambition even higher."
After being branded "racist" by fans for attending antebellum parties in the past and "liking" photos of the Confederate flag, Rachael broke her silence.
In the lengthy Instagram apology, she said: "I hear you, and I'm here to say I was wrong.
"At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them."
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