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When discussing Clayton Echard’s season of The Bachelor, it’s impossible not to talk about Shanae Ankney.

There are some who believe Shanae is the worst villain in Bachelor history.

That’s still up for debate, but there’s no denying that Ankney definitely made life more difficult for the other contestants during her relatively brief time on the show.

For a while there, it looked as though Shanae had Clayton under her spell.

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In the end, he wised up to what was happening and sent her packing.

But many viewers couldn’t help wondering — if the other women hadn’t intervened and called Shanae out, would Clayton ever have woken up and smelled the garlic butter shrimp?

Now that hometowns are over and the women have told all, it’s a good time to reflect on the earlier parts of Echard’s "journey" and ponder what might have gone differently.

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If Shanae had concealed her villainy a bit more effectively, might she have wound up in the running for Clayton’s final rose?

That was the question put to Clayton this week by Maria Cuffio, host of Barstool Sports’ "Chicks In the Office" podcast.

“She’s gone now, and she didn’t go to fantasy suites,” Echard told Cuffio during a recent episode of the podcast.

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“So, what does that say? I was never thinking about that. Never was, Okay?”

Throughout the season, Cuffio tweeted about Clayton’s alleged desire to sleep with Shanae.

She even theorized that the two of them had already had sex, and that that explained the strange power that Ankney seemed to hold over Echard.

“When you made those comments originally, and tweeting about it, I was like, ‘She’s clearly joking, right?’" an irate Echard said.

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"Because I’m over here with the full story and I was like, that’s asinine.”

“You guys did make out a lot though," Cuffio’s co-host Trent Ryan pointed out.

“Listen, I don’t want to downplay kissing, but it’s kissing, alright," Clayton replied.

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Echard previously addressed the controversy surrounding Shanae with a tweet in which he essentially apologized for being taken in by her duplicity.

“I wish I could have seen what was happening when I wasn’t there. I obviously knew y’all weren’t in a good place with each other, but I thought at the same time that it was solely petty drama,” he wrote on February 1. 

“I would have sent Shanae home immediately for making fun of you for being neurodivergent, had I known.

Shanae A.
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“Overall, the experience of me watching hasn’t been fun, simply because I am seeing all the damage that I caused," Echard continued.

"I really meant well, but my actions weren’t always the best, as I now can see the repercussions from my decisions.”

Viewers are pretty split on Clayton as a Bachelor, with some blaming him for the fact that Shanae got so far and others crediting him with cutting her loose eventually.

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Obviously, much will depend on whom Clayton gives his final rose to, as well as whether or not he gets down on one knee.

But no matter how the finale plays out, one thing is certain:

No one will be able to reflect on Clayton’s time as the Bachelor without thinking about Shanae.