'The Bachelor' visits Duluth, recruiting for U.S. Navy
He's a doctor, a Navy lieutenant, a triathlete and formerly the star of a reality TV show designed to find him a soul mate. And ladies, he's still single.
"The Bachelor" star Lt. Andrew Baldwin hit Duluth on Monday and will be here until tomorrow as part of Navy Week, an event designed to recruit people.
Baldwin, 31, spoke to about 60 fans at Grandma's Sports Garden -- not exactly George Clooney- and Renee Zellweger-visiting-Duluth levels of excitement. But try telling that to 15-year-old Jenna Hanson-Johnson, who said she watched each episode of the Bachelor.
What does she like about him?
"One, he's a man in a uniform and two... he's like perfect," she said.
"She dragged me along," said her friend, 15-year-old Tess Hansen, who didn't watch the show. "He's a big fan, and he's just really beautiful."
This was Baldwin's first official Navy Week event after getting back from deployment on a POW-MIA recovery mission in the South Pacific. He had plans to go into residency until he said he got a call from the Navy surgeon general asking if he would advocate for the branch.
"I'm just a normal guy, and you go on TV and your spotlight increases tremendously. And when you talk, people listen," he said.
Would his audience Monday night -- mostly teenage girls --want to join the Navy?
"Maybe, maybe not," said Lt. Ron Flesvig, a field officer for the Navy Office of Community Outreach. "The whole thing is a networking opportunity. Certainly everybody wants to see the Bachelor and we want take advantage of that celebrity. At the same time, Andy has a good message."
As for the reason for his fame, Baldwin starred last year on ABC's "The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman," of which he said nothing was staged or scripted.
"I took a stand in the very beginning when the production was trying to influence what I was doing," he said. "In fact, it had to do a lot with having them pick a certain person that I didn't want to pick and letting somebody go that I didn't want to let go. I literally, I walked off the set and said, 'No, I'm in charge here.' This is about finding the best woman for me, if there is one.'"
The best woman for him was Tessa Horst, who became his fianc?. But Baldwin said in February she broke up with him.
"It hurt. It was really hard," he said. "Being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with your team, with your guys and you being heartbroken, it took some time to get over it."
And he said he's still looking for the right person.
"If a girl comes along that's the right one, that'd be great," he said.
Baldwin's schedule today includes a visit with the media, a tour of St. Luke's hospital and a speaking engagement with the Duluth Chamber of Commerce before he goes home on Wednesday. But he said wouldn't mind coming back to Duluth to settle down after he meets that special someone.
"It's so beautiful," he said. "I've noticed how nice and how good and down-to-earth people are here in Duluth. I can't wait to go back and tell my family friends about it."