The Bachelor has found its next leading man!
“It’s still hitting me right now, and I feel so grateful right now just to have this opportunity in front of me,” Weber, 27, told Chris Harrison at the end of Tuesday night’s reunion. “I feel emotional right now. This is crazy. This is life-changing. I have truly, my entire life, looked forward to finding my girl, and that first person that I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with. … I have all the faith in the world that this can work for me, and I know it’s going to.”
The airplane pilot from Westlake Village, California, placed third on Hannah Brown‘s season of The Bachelorette. Weber won viewers’ hearts all the way to his devastating elimination during the show’s finale, and fans have been ramping up their impassioned pleas for him to become Bachelor on social media.
Asked what he learned from his relationship with Brown, Weber told Harrison: “From night one with that first toast to the very end when I said goodbye to her, she was 100 percent unapologetically herself, and I love that. And that’s something that I definitely want to carry forward with my journey now.”
Shortly after the Bachelorette finale, Weber told PEOPLE he’d definitely be on board to be Bachelor if asked.
“I know this whole situation didn’t work out the way I was hoping, but Hannah truly showed me a different love than I had ever felt,” he told PEOPLE exclusively. “So it’s given me hope that I have more love to find. I wouldn’t say no to trying it again because I know the experience works. And I’m hopeful that my person is right around the corner.”
Weber is also known for being the man Brown had sex with in a windmill — four times! — during their Fantasy Suite date. His time on the show wasn’t without controversy, though — similar to Brown’s brief fiancé Jed Wyatt, a woman claimed she’d been seeing Weber when he left to shoot The Bachelorette. He denied her claims in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, saying, “There was a lot of truth to what she said in her story, but there is also a lot of truth that wasn’t mentioned. The show had absolutely nothing to do with me ending that relationship.”
Other frontrunners for the job were Brown’s former suitors Mike Johnson and Tyler Cameron, plus Bachelor in Paradise favorite Derek Peth.
Johnson — a San Antonio, Texas, portfolio manager — would make history as the first black man and the first military veteran to become the Bachelor.
Chris Harrison even said Johnson — who went on Bachelor in Paradise this summer, too — stood a solid chance of taking the lead next season.
“Of course he’s a contender [for Bachelor],” Harrison told PEOPLE. “How could he not be a contender with that smile? He’s one of my favorite people we’ve ever had on the show. He’s a love of a man. I don’t know him that well, and I consider him a really good friend.”
Throughout The Bachelorette, runner-up Cameron was outspoken in his defense of Brown as she fell victim to slut-shaming on social media — only making fans fall in love with him even more. After she was accused of “dry-humping” all of her contestants, Cameron tweeted, “let our Queen live and let’s embrace her on this journey.”
When Brown and Cameron reunited for the first time during the live, in-studio portion of The Bachelorette finale (following her split from ex-fiancé Wyatt, who’d lied about having a girlfriend when he went on the show), Brown boldly asked Cameron out on a date, and he happily agreed.
Several days later, Cameron was spotted leaving Brown’s L.A’s residence early in the morning. However, he soon started dating Gigi Hadid in New York City, which led to doubt about his prospects as Bachelor.
An unexpected candidate, Peth became a fan-favorite on the current season of Bachelor in Paradise when he was dumped by Demi Burnett, who chose to continue a relationship with a woman she’d been dating in Los Angeles.
Following the episode, Wells Adams showed his support by campaigning for Peth to be the next Bachelor lead. (Peth was a contestant on JoJo Fletcher’s season of The Bachelorette and got engaged to Taylor Nolan after season 4 of BiP.)
“#derekforbachelor Appreciation video for my roommate on the @bacheloretteabc,” Paradise bartender Adams wrote alongside a photo montage of the two. “My bourbon drinking buddy. My bestie from the TV world and honestly the one of the best guys I’ve ever met. We don’t deserve @pethderek.”
Season 24 of The Bachelor will premiere on Jan. 6, 2020 on ABC.