Bachelorette fans found out first hand that Virginia is for lovers—if you’re anyone but Becca Kufrin. The most recent episode of the ABC dating show was filmed in Richmond, but if it played like a tourism ad for the Commonwealth of Virginia, it’s probably because it was.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the state paid $536,000 in incentives to get The Bachelorette to film there. The deal reportedly required the show “to mention the state’s ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ tourism campaign and provide a link to the state’s tourism page on the show’s website.”
Tourism officials say the state received $47 million “in publicity value” from the exposure due to high viewership for the hit reality show.
Paid locales and other perks are nothing new for The Bachelor franchise. Expenses for the summertime spinoff, Bachelor in Paradise, are mostly footed by the Mexico Tourism Board in exchange for free publicity, according to People.
But Becca Kufrin’s filming in a state that boasts “Virginia is for Lovers” as its motto had some viewers scratching their heads. There may not have ever been a less romantic Bachelorette episode in the franchise’s history.
The Wrap pointed out that Kufrin’s jaunt to Virginia was not only a letdown for suitors who expected to be jetting to a European country by now, with some fans slamming the “low budget” Bachelorette season.
It didn’t help that the pitch for Virginia was pretty blatant, including a four-minute spiel by Ralph Northam, the sitting governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, on why his state is the place to fall in love.
Kufrin’s Virginia based dates included an “unhappy hour” with her suitor Jason at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, which included a visit to the legendary writer’s mother’s grave. Whitewater rafting was scrapped due to the weather. A later group date included a debate which featured a showdown between doomed suitors Chris and Lincoln. In a clearly fed interview line, Bachelorette contestant Leo Dottavio even had the nerve to say, “Just like Virginia birthed the nation, I hope that it births a relationship that really lasts with Becca.”
In her recap for Us Weekly, former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay acknowledged that this episode of the show could have been dubbed “Virginia is for haters,” but she defended the locale.
“Most people may not be excited about this Richmond, Virginia, date but I personally love history and am so excited that a debate was incorporated into this season,” Lindsay wrote. “Let’s just put it this way … I would have much rather judged a debate than a spelling bee competition during my season.”
You can see an ad for The Bachelorette posted by the Virginia Is for Lovers board below.