'Bachelorette' from Bradley: In season finale, Michelle Young picks her soul-Nayte

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In this screenshot, Bradley University graduate Michelle Young and Nayte Olukoya are all smiles as they appear on ABC as a couple for the first time in public. Young was the star of the most recent season of "The Bachelorette," an ABC reality-television program.
In this screenshot, Bradley University graduate Michelle Young and Nayte Olukoya are all smiles as they appear on ABC as a couple for the first time in public. Young was the star of the most recent season of "The Bachelorette," an ABC reality-television program.

Michelle Young finally has found her soulmate. Or her soul-Nayte, as she put it.

The Bradley University graduate and former basketball player gave Nayte Olukoya her final rose in the season finale of “The Bachelorette.” The episode was telecast Tuesday night on Heart of Illinois ABC locally.

Olukoya proposed marriage, and Young accepted.

“I have to follow my heart, and … my heart belongs to Nayte,” Young said just before the season climax.

Online reports predicted final outcome weeks ago

Through the course of episodes that began to air in October, the 28-year-old Young winnowed to two a field of about 30. The finalists were Olukoya, 27, and Brandon Jones, 26.

Much of the season-ending episode, set at a resort in Mexico, focused on Young’s angst as she tried to reconcile her love for both men.

“It’s the shocking ending you’ll never expect!” an unseen voice intoned during the program’s introduction.

Anybody who did a deep internet dive into all things “Bachelorette” probably did expect the ending. Blogger Reality Steve, who specializes in “The Bachelor” suite of programming, reported weeks ago that Young selected Olukoya.

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Young was the second recent ABC reality-TV star with Peoria-area ties. In 2019, the protagonist of “The Bachelor” was Colton Underwood, a graduate of Washington Community High School. Young was a "Bachelor" finalist earlier this year.

In the “After the Final Rose” postscript program Tuesday night, telecast live following the two-hour season finale, Young and Olukoya made their first public appearance as a couple. They’re still engaged.

“Hey, hey, I’ve got a fiancée,” Olukoya told program host Kaitlyn Bristowe.

Bradley's Michelle Young (1) shoots over the out stretched arm of Kentucky's Janee Thompson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
Bradley's Michelle Young (1) shoots over the out stretched arm of Kentucky's Janee Thompson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

That fiancée is a schoolteacher in Minneapolis-St. Paul, her native area. Young also was the Bradley women’s basketball team’s leading scorer her senior season, 2014-15, and was an academic standout.

Olukoya is a sales executive who resides in Austin, Texas.

“I’ve never been with somebody who makes me feel so beautiful, inside and out,” Young said.

First Black couple in 'Bachelorette' history

Young and Olukoya are the first Black couple in the 19-year history of “The Bachelorette.” The season was filmed over the summer, to fit with Young’s schedule as a fifth-grade teacher.

Jones also appeared on the live postgame show, before Young and Olukoya’s coming-out party. During the season finale, Jones appeared crushed Young didn’t choose him.

The few months since that episode was filmed seemed healing for Jones, a traveling-nurse recruiter from Portland, Ore. But in his first post-rejection face-to-face with Young, Jones acknowledged he isn’t quite over her yet.

More: 'Bachelorette' doesn't stop ex-Bradley athlete Michelle Young from going back to school

“I will always, always, always love Michelle,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think it would be respectful to love her in that manner anymore.”

The season finale revealed Young’s parents, Ephraim and LaVonne Young, thought much more highly of Jones than they did of Olukoya. LaVonne Young suggested she wasn’t sure if Olukoya was ready for marriage.

On “After the Final Rose,” the elder Youngs sat in the front row of the studio audience. Time had changed their minds regarding their presumptive son-in-law, evidently.

“We are absolutely in love with Nayte,” LaVonne Young said.

House hunting? Why not Peoria?

Olukoya said he is planning to move to Minnesota in the next couple of months. Minneapolis-St. Paul is about a seven-hour drive from Olukoya’s hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The couple already is house hunting in the Twin Cities. “The Bachelorette” staff presented Olukoya and Young with a check for a down-payment. Young said the check was for $200,000.

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In Peoria, of course, many nice houses would cost less than that — just in case Young wants to be closer to her alma mater. Once Olukoya tries Avanti’s, he might never leave town.

Nick in the Morning
Nick in the Morning

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Michelle Young, The Bachelorette, chooses soul-Nayte Olukoya