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The only thing better than the return of Bachelor in Paradise tonight is the reappearance of Michael Allio, the 38-year-old single dad from Katie Thurston's season of The Bachelorette.
In preparation for the big reunion, ABC released a short clip of “Papa Mike,” highlighting some of his “self-improvement” efforts. In other words, everyone is talking about how totally “jacked” he is, to use the words of host Jesse Palmer.
“This is dad going to summer camp,” Michael said in the season teaser, and he seems beyond thrilled to be back in the Bachelor Universe for another shot at finding his perfect match.
SPOILER ALERT: it seems like the second time is the charm for this lucky fella, but more on that here.
Michael initially got off to a slow start when vying for Katie Thurston’s heart back on The Bachelorette, but things turned around fast after his one-on-one date. It seemed like his connection with Katie could go the distance until time away from home got the best of him.
While Michael didn't make it to Katie's finale, he quickly became a fan favorite for his swoon-worthy family values and dreamy personality. This entrepreneur will definitely be one to watch throughout this season of Bachelor in Paradise.
Here's the 411 on everything Michael:
Michael is from Ohio.
He has a son named James.
Michael's son, James, turned 6 earlier this month, according to Michael’s Instagram.
Michael is a super hands-on dad. He FaceTimed James every single day while he was filming Katie's season. The pair do everything together on Michael's Instagram, from renovating their kitchen to wearing matching Christmas pajamas (adorable!).
James recently started Kindergarten and you already know this dad had the Instagram to prove it. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Michael's wife, Laura Ritter-Allio, died in 2019.
Michael's wife, Laura Ritter-Allio, passed away in 2019, two years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The two met at Loyola University in Chicago and were married for four years before they had James in 2016, per Us Weekly. Michael posts about Laura often and writes the sweetest messages about her on IG: "Your beautiful mother, our magnificent angel, is so incredibly proud of you," he wrote in a caption for James' fourth birthday.
He posted a tribute to Laura on Sept. 1, which would have been their 10th wedding anniversary.
“I wish I could say that time flys by, but without you I must admit it’s gone painstakingly slow. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s just your way of keeping me close. I’d like to think so,” he wrote in the caption. Michael concluded the post, remarking on the inspiration he pulls from his wife’s strength, “Through sickness and in health, you taught me how to fight for the things you love. And while I could never be as brave or as fierce as you, I’ve been trying my best since the day you left.”
Michael founded a non-profit in his wife’s honor.
Michael's job title on the show is "business owner," but he really runs a non-profit called The L4 Project in memory of Laura. The site sells apparel and donates to various charities to help raise awareness about breast cancer.
According to his LinkedIn, Michael also recently started a second company, ALLSTERA, that sells personal protective equipment and other sanitation products. Here's hoping Katie has some of that same business savvy!
Both Michael and his son are better prepared for their time apart.
Michael made it to Katie's final four guys before leaving the show. He self-eliminated during hometowns to spend more time with his son.
However, this time around, both Michael and his son, James, are better prepared for the distance. While Michael is away for three weeks, James will go on his own vacation with both sets of grandparents (both Michael’s parents and Laura’s). "He's in good hands," Michael assured everyone when talking to Entertainment Tonight.
"Since we've had some history of doing this in the past, we were a little bit more prepared this time around," Michael said, per ET. “When I told him I was going away, he was like, 'I'm going to have so much more fun than you.' And I'm like, 'Little do you know.'"
He’s an avid runner.
Michael's a serious runner (maybe there's a marathon in his future?). He posts pretty snapshots from his running route all the time.
"Finally getting back into running," he captioned one shot. "Feels great and hard to beat the trails available in the @cuyahogavalleynps. 2021 is about hitting goals."
He loves to travel.
Michael's a total adventurer. He's been all over, from Miami to New York to Mexico, and he loves sharing all about his travels on social media. His latest trip was to St. John: "Another beautiful day in one of my favorite places," he captioned one post.
"After a year like this, I cannot tell you how much this was needed. Maybe because I didn't know myself until now...Feeling blessed. Feeling growth. Feeling optimistic. Missing James but enjoying the present."
He was a huge hit on Twitter.
Fans on Twitter were not shy about expressing their love for Michael while Katie's season was airing. "MICHAEL IS TOO PURE FOR THIS WORLD😩♥️," one tweet read.
— miki v (@catherineligma) June 15, 2021
"Is it hot in here or is it a New Mexico heat wave?" another fan asked.
— Ariana (@ariasteggs) June 15, 2021
And I’m only expecting the Twitter love to continue as he returns to screens for The Bachelor in Paradise tonight.
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