At the start of each season of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” fans begin predicting not only which of the 30-something ladies will get the final rose, but who might be back the next season handing out her own as “The Bachelorette.” Matt James’ season earlier this year yielded not only a huge shake-up in the franchise but two new Bachelorettes with their own separate, consecutive journeys to find love. And the first is a hometown favorite.

4 things to watch for in the newest season of ‘The Bachelorette’

Katie Thurston, 30, of Renton, begins her season on Monday, June 7, with a field of 30 suitors (29 previously named men and one identified on the official ABC site only with an image of a wrapped box and a bunch of question marks, whose occupation is listed officially as “Box.”). She was eliminated in the sixth episode of James’ season but gained a reputation for being outspoken and funny. Even her famous TV ex approves: “She’s bold,” James told Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live.”

Katie Thurston with “The Bachelor” star Matt James. (Craig Sjodin / ABC)
Katie Thurston with “The Bachelor” star Matt James. (Craig Sjodin / ABC)

“I think people are excited for her to be the lead, and trust her being at the helm,” says Brett Vergara, host of the “Baby Got Bach” podcast and ruminator on all things Bachelor Nation to his more than 130,000 social-media followers across TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. “I know that she has personality. Her videos are hilarious, really funny.”

So what else do we know about the star of the 17th season of “The Bachelorette?” Throw on your best cocktail dress, grab a glass of Champagne and read on.

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She’s a baller: Thurston was a member of the Lynnwood Royals Varsity Girls Volleyball team at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, as the libero, a position that NCAA.com describes as a back-row defensive specialist. The (Everett) Herald lists her as a junior in the 2008-2009 season, which would have her graduating in 2009.

You can bank on her success: Thurston’s official “Bachelor” bio describes her as a bank marketing manager. First Financial Northwest Bank lists her as an employee and she was featured in the Everett Herald in 2018 as part of a group of bank volunteers who packed back-to-school backpacks for schoolkids. But in her ABC bio she says she’d also love to one day host her own talk show. Which makes sense because ….

She’s already killing it in the media (social media, that is): Thurston’s become a funny, frank presence on Instagram, where she shares flirty photos, thoughts and videos with her more than 585,000 followers. One of the stars of her feed? Her cat, Tommy, who, according to Marie Claire, she describes as “a big floof.” And according to Women’s Health, her Insta feed has also featured her love for the Seattle Seahawks and her excitement at becoming a first-time homeowner.

She’s sex-positive: The tagline for Thurston’s “Bachelorette” promo is: “See what all the buzz is about.” It’s a punny reference to her grand entrance on the premiere of “The Bachelor,” coming straight out of the limo to meet James, carrying a purple vibrator that she later placed right in the middle of the coffee table, right next to the flower arrangement. This wasn’t “a planned agenda,” she told now-fellow “Bachelorette” leads Rachel Lindsay and Becca Kufrin on their “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast, according to People. “It’s just who I am and who I’ve been this whole time. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized how big of a deal it was — which excites me because I do believe it’s 2021 and women should be comfortable talking about their sexuality.” This explains the recent Instagram shot of her proudly wearing a shirt reading “NO FAKE ORGASMS.”

And vax-positive: Thurston recently shared a video of her rising early from her couch to go get her COVID-19 vaccination, cheerfully brushing her teeth but not showering (“It’s early. Who showers before 10?”). She admits that “I hate getting shots.” But she was willing to literally take one in the arm for the greater good. “I’m not doing this for me,” she says. “I’m doing it for my mom, who is an essential worker, or my sister, who’s pregnant …. For my friends, for my community. For you.” 

And privacy-positive: For someone who’s about to open her dating life up to international strangers, Thurston’s been very mum about her family life. She has referred to her aforementioned mother and sister on social media, and revealed to fellow “Bachelor” contestant Sarah Trott, in an emotional conversation, that her father had passed away.

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She’s true-blue: In a “Bachelor” season distinguished by many, many accusations of bullying (Screen Rant cast the ladies as “Mean Girls” characters), Thurston stood apart as a defender of other women. She had that heart-to-heart with Trott, and when the show added four new contestants to the mix in the middle of the season, she asked the original cast to “welcome them into the house a little bit,” according to Yahoo! Entertainment. 

She may have already found love: According to Us Weekly, an on-set source says that Thurston’s season “went great” and wrapped filming a whole week early. “Katie was in control and made sure the men she wanted were there and the men she wasn’t interested in, she sent packing.” On Instagram she hasn’t spilled any spoilers, but she has joked that her family “is searching for a ring.”

‘The Bachelorette’

Season 17, starring Renton’s Katie Thurston, premieres 8 p.m. Monday, June 7, on ABC. Watch for recaps each week, starting Tuesday morning, June 8, on seattletimes.com.