'Bachelor's Sydney Hightower on Her Connection to Hannah Brown (Exclusive)
Bachelor Nation is a small world!
"Me and Hannah Brown went to high school together," Hightower confirmed to ET's Lauren Zima at the Bachelor: Women Tell All taping on Feb. 21. The special will air Monday night. "We never hung out -- we weren't in the same social group, but we knew each other," she explained. "We went to a very large high school but yes, [I] definitely graduated with Hannah Brown, yes."
Though Bachelor Peter Weber told ET he knew Hightower and Brown were both from Alabama, he had "no idea" that they actually knew each other. And Hightower told ET that Brown being the Bachelorette didn't inspire her to apply for the show.
"No, not at all," she said.
Hightower's old yearbook photos surfaced after her one-on-one date with Weber aired on The Bachelor on Feb. 3. She got emotional during the date, telling Weber that she was the target of racism and bullying in high school, and as a result, missed out on things like Homecoming, and ate her lunch in the bathroom stall during her senior year.
Former classmates of Hightower's then posted photos on social media of her winning a beauty pageant and being picked as an "upperclassmen top beauty," in an attempt to negate her claims. She fought back on Twitter, writing, in part, "Winning a pageant based off of outer beauty does not take away the racial bullying, and isolation I’ve been through."
"I say to that, shame on you," she told ET of what she'd say to those who accused her of making up her story about being bullied. "No one will ever be able to take that pain away, what I went through, no matter what speculations they wanna say about me."
"People that are hurt do things to be accepted, and that's what I did my whole life was try to be accepted and whether that was in a beauty pageant or a club or whatever it may be. All you try to do is be accepted by the people who don't accept you so and that's what I'm still doing today," she added.
Weber previously told ET that he believed Hightower's claims during the episode.
"Listen, I feel like so many of us have been under attack with this show. I don't necessarily understand why," he said. "It seems like in recent seasons there's so much hate coming on and that kind of saddens me. I feel like that's not what this is about. This is truly about trying to hopefully have an amazing love story and it's being just overcome and overwhelmed right now with this insane drama and all this hate."
"It sucks, but it is what it is," Weber conceded.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See more in the video below.
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