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The Bachelorette frontrunner Garrett Yrigoyen is very sorry for liking offensive posts on Instagram in the past—and he wants us all to know that although he did “like” them, they do not represent his beliefs.

Controversy ripped through Bachelor Nation this week, as it was revealed that Yrigoyen, who won the first impression rose during Mondays premiere and thus is widely seen as a frontrunner this year, had a troubling social media history. The medical sales rep had liked several offensive posts in a now-defunct account, which ran the gamut of racism, misogyny, and transphobia.

In an Instagram note published Thursday, Yrigoyen wrote, “This is all new to me. I went on The Bachelorette for the adventure and possibility of falling in love, not fame. I did not know what to expect once the show aired. I am sorry to those who I offended, and I also take full responsibility for my like on Instagram that were hurtful and offensive.”

Yrigoyen said he decided to remove his former Instagram handle for a fresh start—“because I have learned an extremely valuable lesson and am taking steps to grow, become more educated, and be a better version of myself. I am not perfect, and I will never be anywhere close, but now I will always be more informed and aware of what I am liking and supporting, not just on Instagram, but in life.”

“I never realized the power behind a mindless double tap on Instagram and how it bears so much weight on peoples lives,” Yrigoyen continued. “I did not mean any harm by any of it. My Instagram likes were not a true reflection of me and my morals. I am not the negative labels people are associating me with. For those who do know me, I am a sincere, genuine, loving, light-hearted, open-minded and non-judgemental individual. I like to make new friends with anyone I meet and want everyone to find their happiness. I love to laugh often and enjoy seeing others do the same. I hope that some day you can get to know the real me and the man that I am.”

“Let my mistakes be a lesson for those who mindlessly double tap images, memes, and videos on any social media content that could be many things including hurtful, degrading, and dehumanizing,” Yrigoyen concluded. “I do not want my social media to define who I am, and I will take better care moving forward to support all walks of life. Again, I sincerely apologize and am sorry for any hurt, damage, or offense I may have caused.”

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When asked to comment earlier this week about the Instagram activity, this seasons Bachelorette, Rebecca “Becca” Kufrin, offered a tepid response.

“I want viewers to be open to everyone, and I want them to go through this season with me, and watch my love story unfold with all of these men,” Kufrin said. “Because that's how I went into this journey. People say and do certain things. I've done things in the past that Im sure it wasnt the best thing. . . I cant fault anyone for what they believe, and whos to say that anything that anyone likes is truly what they believe in if they just double tap [a picture on Instagram]. I cant speak to that because its not me. I am a strong woman and I do believe in certain things, but again, thats what's so great about our country is that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.”

Following the revelation last season that another contestant, Lee Garrett, had posted offensive things on his social media accounts, Bachelor producers vowed to tighten their vetting process. But Yrigoyens problematic “likes” posed a new problem this eason—and imply that, perhaps, these sorts of controversies will inevitably continue to crop up, no matter how hard producers try to screen contestants before welcoming them to the show. The shows most recent premiere, though delightfully corny, was also the lowest rated in Bachelorette history; it remains to be seen whether this controversy will sour fans further, but it seems unlikely to help.

Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Laura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.

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