After weeks of anticipation, Gainesville’s own Luke Parker made his appearance on “The Bachelorette” Monday night on ABC.
As soon as Parker stepped out — or jumped through the sunroof and onto the roof — of the limousine, he let out a roar. He then jumped off the roof and walked toward Hannah Brown, this season’s bachelorette, in a blue suit with a purple paisley-patterned tie.
“So, I know they call you the beast, but I’m king of the jungle, and I’m hoping we can change your title to my queen,” Parker said.
Parker got a laugh out of Brown with that one. She smiled and hugged him before he went inside to join the 29 other bachelors looking for a chance to propose to Brown at the end of the season.
But the viewers got a different introduction to Luke: He was working out back at home. During his intro at the beginning of the show, he shared how his faith evolved through college, which given that he mentioned it a couple times throughout the premiere seems like it will be a recurring theme throughout the show.
“I like to think I’m a good-looking guy,” Parker said, laughing. “And when I was in college, a lot of other girls around me thought so, too. And I definitely took advantage of that.”
Seeing his brother find a family of his own — Mike Parker and his wife, Hannah, now have their own little girl, Kennedy — made Parker envious of the same thing.
“I’m so ready to get to know Hannah,” Parker said. “And I’m ready to see if I’m the one.”
After all the men introduced themselves to Brown, she walked inside to get the night started. Immediately, Parker took her away to get some one-on-one time, in an effort to get to know her.
As they walked outside, they found a spot on a couch and began talking. Parker told Brown about his family and went on to talk about how he came to be on the show.
“I don’t even have a girlfriend, much less a fiance or wife, but I’m ready to get there,” Parker said. “And I’m not going to lie, this is the last place I'd picture myself … I don’t even know you all that well, but I’m seriously really, really into you.”
The other men did the same, taking any time they could to talk to Brown. Some simply had a conversation, others had games set up and ready to play. But as the night went on, Brown found out one of the men had a girlfriend back home. She promptly sent him away and made an announcement to the remaining men.
“The first thing I said when I got here was that I was afraid somebody was going to be here who wasn’t going to be real and wasn’t here for the right reasons,” Brown said. “And it’s already happened, so if there’s anybody else that has something else back home, please leave now because that’s so disheartening and disrespectful to me and everybody else that’s here.”
After Brown took a few minutes alone to gather her thoughts, Parker, again, in an effort to get more time with Brown and console her, found her and made sure she knew he was there for the right reasons.
“I really wanted to make sure she’s OK, so I thought I’d take that initiative to just step up,” Parker said. “I’m not here to earn a couple roses. I’m here to win your heart. I’m here for you.”
After talking and offering some encouragement to Brown, Parker went back to the group and waited.
Taking initiative like that seems to have made Brown happy. She ended up giving Parker the first-impression rose — given to the person who Brown has the best connection with after the first night — solidifying his position in next week’s episode.
“You said to me that you already felt something as soon as you saw me, and I feel the exact same way,” Brown said. “I’m excited when I get to talk to you and look forward to getting to know you better … I really like you and I wanted you to know that.”