Who Is the Golden Bachelorette? All About Joan Vassos

Joan Vassos, a former contestant on Gerry Turner's season of 'The Golden Bachelor,' has been named the inaugural star of 'The Golden Bachelorette' on ABC

<p>ABC/Ricky Middlesworth</p> Joan Vassos, star of The Golden Bachelorette

ABC/Ricky Middlesworth

Joan Vassos, star of The Golden Bachelorette

Meet The Golden Bachelorette's leading lady!

Joan Vassos has been named the star of the inaugural season of ABC's female-led version of the senior dating show, exciting news that was revealed at the Disney Upfronts presentation in N.Y.C. on Tuesday, May 14.

Vassos is no stranger to the Bachelor franchise, having appeared as a contestant on Gerry Turner's season of The Golden Bachelor. However, her journey to find love was cut short when she voluntarily decided to withdraw from the series to prioritize her family.

Now, the power of the flower is in Vassos' hands when she makes her debut as the first star of The Golden Bachelor this fall. The show, which has yet to reveal its premiere date, will run for an hour and a half on Wednesdays, up from the one-hour episodes last year.

Related: The Golden Bachelorette Names The Golden Bachelor's Joan Vassos as Lead

Vassos hasn't publicly commented on the leading-lady honor yet, but she's updated her Instagram bio to reflect the news. "The first Golden Bachelorette," it reads alongside a rose emoji and the show's Instagram tag.

Meanwhile, Turner shared the exciting news on his own Instagram and congratulated Vassos in an open letter. "You will be phenomenal as the new representative of a generation," he wrote in part. "From one golden to another ... Relax, breathe and enjoy," the letter continued.

The decision to do a female-starring take on the senior dating series came after The Golden Bachelor ranked as the No. 1 new unscripted series in its season among adults ages 18-49 according to ABC. The show also marked ABC’s No. 1 unscripted series premiere ever on Hulu.

Read on to learn more about the first star of The Golden Bachelorette, Joan Vassos!

She's a school administrator

<p>Disney/Michael Le Brecht</p> Joan Vassos

Disney/Michael Le Brecht

Joan Vassos

Vassos is from Rockland, Md. She earned her bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Maryland, per her LinkedIn bio. She works in alumni relations at the Landon School in her home state and has been in the role since 2021.

Related: Golden Bachelor's Gerry Turner Says Joan Vassos Will Be 'Phenomenal' After She's Named First Golden Bachelorette

She was a contestant on The Golden Bachelor

<p>ABC/Craig Sjodin</p> Joan Vassos and Gerry Turner on The Golden Bachelor

ABC/Craig Sjodin

Joan Vassos and Gerry Turner on The Golden Bachelor

Vassos made her Bachelor franchise debut as a contestant on The Golden Bachelor, the first-ever season of the senior dating show that starred Gerry Turner. However, Vassos chose to leave the show during week three.

The former contestant explained her decision to step away from the reality show on Instagram in October 2023. "My journey to find love took a detour this week as I traded the mansion for motherhood and headed home to be with my family. Family comes first, period. Once a mother, always a mother, I’ll always choose my kids first. Thank you for all of your outpouring love and support, for not only me but also my daughter - everyone is now healthy and happy! As for me and my journey to love… guess we will have to see where it takes me next. Until then, stay golden ✨✨🌹" she wrote in the post.

Vassos expanded on her self-elimination when speaking on The Women Tell-All episode in November 2023, revealing that she rushed to her daughter’s side after she experienced postpartum depression following the birth of her baby.

Despite her early departure, Vassos revealed that she wanted to return to The Golden Bachelor to pursue things with Turner. Unfortunately, the timing for her comeback didn’t work out.

“I got home, and my plan was to give [my daughter] some care — I needed to get her some mental health care,” Vassos told The Wrap. “I was in the process of doing that, and I was approached, and they said, ‘Do you want to come back?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to come back, let me see how I’m doing with my daughter.’”

She was married for 32 years

<p>James Clark/Disney via Getty</p> Joan Vassos of The Golden Bachelor

James Clark/Disney via Getty

Joan Vassos of The Golden Bachelor

Vassos was married to her husband John for 32 years. He died in January 2021 from pancreatic cancer.

Three years after his death, Vassos shared a heartfelt tribute to John on her Instagram in January 2024. "He was the husband that always made me feel safe and cherished," she wrote in part.

"He was the parent that was always the fun one because that's all he knew how to do...lucky kids because fun in his book was generally epic. I could go on for hours, you all know that though," she continued. "Honestly, I think that's how he would want to be remembered...by not forgetting him. Please keep telling the stories, don't worry, they don't make me sad...let's be honest, most of them are funny!"

She concluded, "As the Greeks say, 'May his memory be eternal.'"

She has four children and two grandkids

<p>Joan Vassos/Instagram</p> Joan Vassos and her grandkids

Joan Vassos/Instagram

Joan Vassos and her grandkids

Joan welcomed four children with John: Allison, Nicholas, Erica and Luke. Her reason to step away from The Golden Bachelor was to focus on family, particularly her daughter who had just given birth.

"A huge thank you to everyone expressing their concern for my family," she shared on her Instagram Story in October 2023. "It's a privilege to be a mom to four amazing kids and a grandmother (they call me Jojo) to two beautiful grandchildren. But once a mom, always a mom and sometimes the timing doesn't work out with finding love."

"Everyone at home is doing great and I hope one day I will get the chance at love again," she continued in the post at the time.

Related: Kathy Swarts Would Want to 'Be Engaged Longer' Than Gerry and Theresa If Named Golden Bachelorette (Exclusive)

She's still friends with The Golden Bachelor cast

<p>Joan Vassos/Instagram</p> Joan Vassos and Golden Bachelor friends on Celebrity Family Feud.

Joan Vassos/Instagram

Joan Vassos and Golden Bachelor friends on Celebrity Family Feud.

The ladies on The Golden Bachelor went from Vassos' castmates to real-life friends. She formed close bonds with many of the women on the show, friendships that have continued outside the mansion.

“I’m so lucky to have been surrounded by such sweet and supportive women,” she wrote alongside a clip of her informing them she was leaving the show. “Missing these women!”

Vassos often posts photos with the women on her Instagram. In April, she shared a pic with the ladies reuniting at a restaurant, writing, "Golden girls back together!"

Around that same time, Vassos reunited with the girls for an episode of Celebrity Family Feud. She shared an Instagram carousel of images showcasing the fun they had together on set.

"Never imagined we’d be on Celebrity Family Feud but yesterday we got to meet Steve Harvey and play to win funding for a charity of our choosing. So thankful to have had this amazing opportunity with my Golden Bachelor ladies!" she captioned the post.

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