Emily Maynard Makes Her Choice, Selects Groom and Step-Dad To Little Ricki

Emily Maynard, widowed star of the Bachelorette, made her final decision as the show wrapped up last night — but the selection of 27-year-old entrepreneur Jef Holm wasn’t entirely free of the usual reality-show marriage drama and handwringing.

Emily Maynard has been down this road before, albeit very early. The Bachelorette star had previously been engaged to NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick, who died in a 2004 plane crash at the age of 24. Just 18 at the time, Maynard learned soon after the devastating event that she was pregnant, and at 19, she gave birth to now 7-year-old daughter Ricki.

So the stakes for Maynard were a bit higher than your average Bachelor or Bachelorette, as she selected a mate not only for herself, but to become a step-dad to little Ricki.

Ultimately, it came down to Holm and runner-up Arie Luyendyk Jr. But Maynard knew before her last date that she would be selecting Holm — and after both Holm and Luyendyk met her parents and Ricki, Maynard send Luyendyk home a day early and before their final date to spare him the embarrassment of proposing marriage to her when she knew already she would be selecting Holm.

Emily Maynard - The Bachelor Winner

Of the tough choice, Maynard said:

“It’s just not fair to him… As much as I love him, I’ve fallen in love with someone else just a little bit more.”

The news probably came as a surprise, if not to Emily Maynard, to her passed over beau, who said the day before:

“Tomorrow, I’m getting engaged… I feel like when I tell her I love her I can see it in her eyes.”

Jef Holm plans to move to Emily Maynard’s hometown, into a separate apartment, while they plan their wedding.