The Untold Truth Of Michelle Young

Michelle Young first captured America's attention while competing for Matt James' heart on the —to borrow one of the franchise's most uttered words — dramatic 25th season of "The Bachelor," but ended up coming in second place when the lead chose Rachael Kirkconnell as his winner. Bachelor Nation fans will remember exactly why James' pick was so controversial (hint: it involved Kirkconnell), while Season 25 also marked the final season of the notorious reality TV dating show to be hosted by the longtime face of the franchise, Chris Harrison.

It all worked out well in the end for Young, though. Well, sort of. It was announced that she and Katie Thurston would both have a turn at being the Bachelorette, looking for love in separate seasons of the show. Young ended her "Bachelorette" season engaged to Nayte Olukoya, but things didn't exactly go the distance. Young and Olukoya split in June 2022, around six months after the finale aired, with the latter admitting to ET they ended things over the phone. Ouch.

Of course, there is far more to Young than her reality TV engagement and subsequent breakup. Let's get into the untold truth of the beloved Bachelor Nation star. 

Michelle Young cried over $200,000

While receiving $200,000 may not sound like something to cry over (unless it's a happy cry, of course), Michelle Young let the tears flow. And they weren't exactly happy tears. Allow us to explain. On the "After The Final Rose" episode of "The Bachelorette" that aired in December 2021, Young and her now former fiancé, Nayte Olukoya, were given the hefty six-figure sum to help them buy a house in Minnesota, per Page Six.  The issue here? The two never actually bought that house, broke up, and moved to California (separately we must add, but more to come on that later).

The predicament of what to do with the money that was technically gifted to both of them weighed pretty heavily on Young's mind following their breakup, with the ex-Bachelorette admitting it left her in tears. "I've literally been crying on the phone with the producers, to be like 'can I create this to give the money to somebody else?' It's something I feel good about," she said on "Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous" in July 2022. Young added that where the money will go hasn't officially been determined yet, but noted she had the best intentions for it. "I have started putting down some different things in place to give back, to build an organization, or just promote the change that I've been talking about," she said.

The Bachelorette was a basketball star

Before becoming a reality TV star, Michelle Young was a seriously talented basketball player, thank you very much. Young was actually the star player at her high school and then got an athletic scholarship to Bradley University. According to her Bradley Braves profile, she has a slew of awards and achievements to her name in the basketball and athletic fields, including being on the Bradley AD Honor Roll in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, and Spring 2015, as well as plenty of weeks being Athlete of the Week, plus being named Two-Time First-Team MVC Scholar-Athlete. Talk about a slam dunk of a resume. 

But would Young ever leave her new glamorous life of red carpets and podcast hosting behind and head back to the court? Probably not. The star touched on her basketball career on Instagram in December 2020, sharing a picture of herself posing on the court alongside the caption, "50% missing the game 40% missing the camaraderie 10% missing the grind 0% missing the conditioning workouts." So yes, her serious basketball days may be behind her now, but it sounds like she doesn't have too many regrets. 

Why Michelle Young left teaching behind

It's no secret that Michelle Young was a passionate school teacher during her time on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," returning to her day job working at Echo Park Elementary School in Burnsville, Minnesota, after both reality TV stints. What may be a little more under the radar, though? Why the proud teacher gave up her career.

Young announced in May 2022 that she'd be leaving the classroom behind, at least temporarily, following her difficult split with Nayte Olukoya. She opened about the decision on "Bachelor Happy Hour," explaining she felt she'd been living what she described as a "double life" as a teacher and starlet. "I've been in this survival mode two years where I have just been flying by the seat of my pants but really not necessarily living or just surviving with the pandemic, with going through these crazy but awesome changes [with] the show, with getting a fiancé," she shared. Adding that she planned to return, potentially after a year, she said she was looking forward to pursuing different passion. "Staying in the classroom and seeing and feeling that weight just shows me that something has to be done," she said.

Young previously opened up about her work stresses on "Bachelor Happy Hour" in October 2021, saying, "It's busy, it's hectic, I'm definitely tired," while noting she'd been planning lessons in the makeup chair before going to movie premieres.

Michelle Young wants to try another reality show

Did you know Michelle Young has serious moves? Turns out, the former "Bachelorette" star is quite the keen dancer — so much so she's looking to land herself a place on "Dancing with the Stars." Yep, Young has expressed her desire to follow in the footsteps of fellow Bachelor Nation stars Kaitlyn Bristowe, Gabby Windey, and Nick Viall; she's ready to put her reality TV star hat back on and strap on a pair of dancing shoes. "I've spoken to a few former leads who have done it and I've heard it's a lot of work and very strenuous. It can be a lot of pressure. But I feel like sometimes I thrive in those situations because it reminds me of my college athlete days," Young said to Becca Kufrin on a May 2022 episode of "Bachelor Happy Hour." "Yeah, I would do it! I think it would be so much fun, but there's a huge difference between TikTok dancing and 'Dancing with the Stars.' So yeah, I would."

Speaking of TikTok dances, it turns out Young is pretty enthusiastic there too. The star regularly posts fun videos of her showing off her moves, including this video of her dancing alongside Kurfin and Mari Pepin-Solis. The trio appeared to be outside the studio of a "Family Feud" taping, with Young writing in the caption, "Good thing this isn't an audition video for 'Dancing with The Stars.'" ...Or wasn't it?

Michelle Young's many miles

Michele Young might be most famous for being the teacher from Minnesota, proudly returning to the state after finding fame to be back in the classroom, but this reality star has actually lived all over the U.S. One of her biggest moves, though? The one so many in show business make — to Los Angeles. In August 2022, Young announced on the "Bachelor Happy Hour" podcast that she'd be heading back to Southern California, where she filmed "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." "I'll be spending a little more time in L.A.," Young told her co-host, Becca Kufrin, who shared how excited she was to be able to record their podcast face to face as she too lives on the West Coast. The timing of the announcement raised a few eyebrows though, as Young's big news came around two weeks after Us Weekly reported her former fiancé, Nayte Olukoya, had moved to California in the wake of their breakup.

Minnesota and California are not the only states that Young has been proud to call home. During an Instagram Q&A session (via Us Weekly), she noted that she's lived in South Carolina and attended college in Illinois. She also joked that she wouldn't necessarily miss swapping a Minnesota winter for some California sun.

She's opened up about her experiences with racism

Michelle Young has been very open about her experiences with racism, including getting very candid on a November 2021 episode of "The Bachelorette" about a time when a stranger directed a racist slur at her while she was out shopping (via USA Today). "When I got home and was visibly upset, the response was more how I was giving the woman more power because I was upset and I chose to be upset about it, and I had to justify my emotions. Which I did. I tried to explain where I was coming from," Young recalled of how her partner at the time, who was not Black, reacted. She shared that his lack of empathy and und understanding made her realize he was not the person for her. That same episode, Young also spoke out about feeling like what she described as "the token Black girl" growing up.

That same month, Young told Glamour that she'd been criticized for being so vocal about racism and mental health issues. But, being the strong woman she is, Young focuses on the positive aspects of her very public life. "What's so cool to see is these messages that I get from moms and daughters and other women of color and girls of color, like how they felt, a moment of relief when I was able to express that," she said. "That's something that's really important."

Michelle Young is fairly new to Instagram

One could argue a number of contestants on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" are, to borrow parlance of the franchise, not there for the right reasons. But that doesn't seem to be the case for Young. This teacher turned reality star has made it pretty clear fame, money, and IG likes were not exactly top of mind when she decide to go on the show. In fact, Young didn't even get an Instagram account until April 2020, which was around nine months before Matt James' season of "The Bachelor" premiered. "A little late to the Instagram party but, I made it," she captioned her first upload, which showed her posing in front of a white wall.

She also dished on the morals that were instilled in her while growing up, noting that her family hasn't exactly pushed her into the business we call show. "I come from a family where we don't care about the spotlight. I'm not here for the money or here for the likes and the follows and all those different things," she told Glamour in 2021. "I mean, I'm legitimately still trying to learn how to use Instagram," she joked, adding that she hopes to use her platform for good. 

Rihanna is one of her fans

Who knew Michelle Young had a connection with Queen RiRi herself? Yep, it turns out these two are actually big fans of each other (can you imagine being able to tell people Rihanna is a fan of yours?) and it was actually Rihanna who recognized Young first when she and Nayte Olukoya attended an event for her Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin line back February 2022.

Young dished on their interaction on "Bachelor Happy Hour" the following month, telling her co-host Becca Kufrin, "I typically do not get starstruck, but that was pretty cool. Rihanna came through at her event and walked through the crowd and spots me and points at me. She was like, 'Oh my gosh, Michelle!' It took me a few seconds to realize it was real." Unfortunately, Young admitted they don't keep in contact following the interaction, but joked she might shoot her shot via the DMs in an attempt to get her on the podcast.

Young initially shared photos of herself and her now former fiancé posing with the star on Instagram, per Heavy, though those snaps have since been deleted. She also gave fans a look at the interaction as it happened via Instagram Stories, sharing a video of Rihanna giving the peace sign and writing (via Monsters and Critics), "Rihanna acknowledging she's a big fan while throwing up a peace sign for Nayte may have been the highlight of the night."

Michelle Young is a workout queen

Michelle Young may no longer play basketball competitively, but she is forever an athlete. "I'm a very active person. I go to the gym, I lift weights, I stay active, I play on club basketball and kickball and all these different things," she once said on "Bachelor Happy Hour." And sometimes, those gym sessions make their way to Instagram and TikTok.

On the same episode of the aforementioned podcast, "The Bachelorette" alum went on to add that it's important that the person she's in a relationship with is as active as she is. "Not that you have to be this chiseled, athletic person, but I want you to be able to live a fit lifestyle with me because I think that's something that can hold two people together," she explained. "You gotta be able to keep up with me!" Hey, she knows what she likes.

While exercise is clearly important to Young, she implied on Instagram that she'd strayed a little from her usual workout regimen following her difficult breakup with Nayte Olukoya, but was happy to be getting back into the gym. (Who among us, right?) "No better feeling than getting back into a solid routine," she captioned a workout video. "Anyone else been consistently inconsistent when it comes to getting to the gym?" she asked. Erm, us, 100%.