Two years ago, Robby Hayes, 28, was between jobs, finishing up a master’s degree in finance at the University of Miami and determining where his life would lead him next. While sitting on his parents’ couch and discussing options, fate called. Or rather, ABC called, telling him that he had been chosen as a contestant for “The Bachelorette,” an opportunity that he was unaware he had been in the running for. His first thought: His friends were playing a prank.
Today, the Jacksonville native juggles casting calls, managing new business endeavors, taking pictures with fans and brushing shoulders with big names like Jamie Foxx, Sam Hunt and David Spade in L.A. Viewers last saw him on “The Bachelorette,” where he tried to win the heart of JoJo Fletcher, ultimately finishing as runner-up.
Now he’s at it again. Starting Monday, Hayes will attempt to find love for a second time on national television in season 4 of “Bachelor in Paradise.” The reality series premieres at 8 p.m. Monday on ABC.
“Bachelor in Paradise,” a spin-off of “The Bachelor” franchise, gives some contestants from past seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” a second chance at love.
As Hayes described it: “The camera is on 24/7. You pretty much wake up, work out, drink, hang out, build friendships, drink some more, eat, drink some more, do something crazy, drink some more.”
The goal, as with the other shows, is to find love. And, of course, there will be drama.
“The whole show is about drama,” Hayes said. “When the drama runs out, the show ends. The viewers know that and the fans. …”
The drama started earlier than expected this summer when filming stopped due to a sexual assault accusation and all contestants were sent home. After it was ruled that no misconduct took place, filming resumed.
“We were in the dark for about five days in Mexico before sending us home the first time,” Hayes said. “Once we got back there was no dark side … everyone was really excited we were back and shocked because we didn’t think it would pick back up.”
Hayes said he decided to take part in “Bachelor in Paradise” because he felt like he missed out last season when most of his friends were on the show. He’s not allowed to say whether he found love as an added bonus.
“I do want to settle down in the near future,” Hayes said. “I could definitely see myself back in Jacksonville, all my family is there.”
He has fond memories of growing up on the St. Johns River and enjoying the beach.
“I was in the water for six, seven hours a day, it was just my second home,” Hayes said.
He tries to visit once a month and keeps up with his parents and siblings with a group message for some “some good, fun family banter,” Hayes said. He said he talks with his mom on the phone almost every day.
Hayes’ rapid rise to fame has definitely been an adjustment for the whole family.
“It was hard to see his heart get broken,” Holly Hayes, Robby’s mother, said about watching the finale of “The Bachelorette.” “He’s still my baby boy.”
When Hayes brought Fletcher home to meet his family during “The Bachelorette” filming, she said, there were girls hiding in the bushes in front of their home and cars lining the street. During the break in filming of “Paradise,” Hayes came back to Jacksonville, where he was photographed by paparazzi while grocery shopping at a local Publix.
“It’s all anyone wants to talk about,” Robert Hayes, his father, said. The senior vice president of Gilbane Building Co. said in business, meetings professionals have asked if he has a son named Robby. His mother, a real estate agent, said all clients wanted to talk about during a recent closing was “The Bachelorette.”
In April Hayes moved to Los Angeles with a few other previous “Bachelor” contestants to be closer to business opportunities. He is currently focusing on a clothing brand, Leisureletics, which produces women’s yoga pants.
Overall, he feels very blessed to have gotten that call from ABC.