Chris Harrison Thanks Bachelor Nation Fans on the Show’s 17th Anniversary

It’s a proud day for Bachelor Nation! Franchise host Chris Harrison thanked fans of the ABC hit The Bachelor for 17 years of loyal viewership.

“On this day in 2002 we started a crazy new show called #TheBachelor,” the former sports reporter, 47, wrote on Instagram Opens a New Window. on Monday, March 25. “I could go on and write the longest caption ever but I’ll just say Thank You! #BachelorNation.”

Harrison’s girlfriend, Entertainment Tonight correspondent Lauren Zima, poked fun at him, commenting on the post, “Wait a minute how old are you?”

“Hey I look damn good for 72,” he responded.

The series premiered with its inaugural bachelor of Alex Michel, who chose event planner Amanda Marsh over Trista Sutter. (The Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart author, for her part, went on to become the first Bachelorette.) Despite his love connection with Marsh, however, the show’s star chose not to propose and the couple broke up one year later.

Michel now appears to work as a digital media executive in Washington, D.C.

Harrison admitted he had lost touch with the former reality star during an interview Opens a New Window. with Katie Couric in 2013. “I know people have tried to get ahold of him, and we would have loved to have had him here today, but he’s kind of gone on to live his life,” Harrison said. “But, we do owe him a debt of gratitude; he kicked this whole thing off … I don’t blame him [for disappearing]; he’s paid his dues.”

In addition to his successful career, Harrison also has cause to celebrate as far as his love life is concerned: He made his red-carpet debut with Zima, 38, in January.

According to ET Opens a New Window. , the twosome had been dating for months prior to stepping out together and are “very happy.”

Becca Tilley, who competed on the Bachelor seasons 19 and 20, told Us Weekly that, though her pal’s relationship was initially a surprise, she was “really happy for them.”

The former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host was previously married to Gwen Harrison for 18 years, with whom he shares daughter Taylor and son Joshua.

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