Nancy Hulkower knew it was time for her to leave The Golden Bachelor. On Thursday’s episode of the ABC series, the 60-year-old retired interior designer self-eliminated and walked away from her burgeoning romance with Gerry Turner.
In an interview with ET’s Denny Directo, Nancy revealed what prompted her to go to Gerry for confirmation that she wasn’t one of his top prospects, a thought he confirmed before walking her out of the Bachelor Mansion.
“What really precipitated that was I had sustained an injury playing pickleball,” Nancy told ET of the week’s group date activity. “… I didn’t fall, but I just moved my leg wrong. I waited a day and then went to the ER anyway and they said, ‘You have a slight stress fracture, but you’ll be having to wear a boot’… They said, ‘You’re gonna have to wear the boot the entire time you’re here.'”
At first, Nancy kept pushing through, but eventually she began to think, “You know what? I haven’t even been talking [to Gerry]. I don’t even know if Gerry and I have a close connection.”
“My leg really hurt, and so I thought, ‘I think this is a good time,'” she said of initiating her goodbye conversation with the retired restaurateur. “It was moving quickly, and I thought, ‘I don’t know him that well. I’m not there yet.'”
Now, Nancy said, “My leg is completely healed. I’m out at the boot. I’m ready for love. Keep that in mind.”
While Nancy didn’t have a long-lasting connection with Gerry, she did have a special moment with him during a photoshoot date, when she got emotional as she donned a wedding dress costume.
“I think grief, you always carry it with you, but it’s been 12 years. I have processed it,” she said of her husband’s death. “I have dated and I want to date… It wasn’t the dress, but once I put it on and somebody said, ‘Nancy, you make such a beautiful bride.’ When they said that, it just reminded me of my whole marriage, not just the actual dress, but it evoked all those emotions, my whole relationship.”
“I think people who’ve had spouses die… it [can come] out of nowhere. That’s what happens,” Nancy continued. “I think that will always be with you. It might happen again. Who knows? But it hadn’t happened for 10 years. I had to be vulnerable with him and just say, ‘You know what? I had a hard day.'”
Gerry responded to Nancy’s struggle well, but the pair didn’t have many more moments of note.
“My only regret is that I didn’t get to know him as well as I wanted to. I think I speak for a lot of the women there. We have a very short time with him. If you get a one-on-one date with him that’s when you get to spend quality alone time. I got a group date rose, but I did not get a one-on-one date, so I think that was hard,” she said. “He really did connect with several people right away and you could tell. He was lovely and he’s a really good guy. He’s a nice guy.”
Though The Golden Bachelor didn’t end with a new love for Nancy, she’s grateful that her niece signed her up for the show.
“My niece actually applied [for] me and I thought, ‘You know what? I don’t have anything to lose,'” Nancy told ET. “It was a leap of faith, but I think I was just ready for it. It was such a great adventure overall. [It was] revitalizing.”
“I think it also made me realize that I think I was lonely. Maybe I didn’t realize I was lonely. I’ve been alone. I know how to do that, but I miss having someone in my life,” she continued. “… I feel so lucky that I got [to do] it and made great friends… We all want this to be a platform for good for other women and men who are alone in their 60s and older. It does just remind you, hopefully, that you can still do this… I wasn’t always comfortable, but… I did it anyway and I feel again revitalized.”
With her new, revitalized attitude, Nancy is ready to get back into the dating game.
“I still know that there are great men out there. It reminded me that you have to put yourself out there. If you’re sitting at home he’s not going to come knocking on the door,” she said. “It’s hard, I think, as women — and men, I’m sure — get older, because you’re like, ‘It’ll never happen.’ You can make all these excuses, but after a while, you start to just kind of settle into that.”
“[Now] I know I have to put myself out there more. I’m ready to. I’m not dreading it,” Nancy added. “Now, I’m excited because I feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, I still have an opportunity.’ I feel so much better about myself having gone through this experience.”
Because of that, if The Golden Bachelorette were to be greenlit and Nancy was asked to lead the show, it’s an opportunity she’d quickly accept.
“Oh my gosh. Absolutely. Why wouldn’t you?” she said. “You know what? I’m still pinching myself just for having this opportunity. I’m in a really good, thankful place.”
The Golden Bachelor airs Thursdays on ABC. Follow along Gerry Turner‘s journey for love with ET’s coverage of the show.
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