Signing up as a contestant on The Bachelor means baring your soul, humiliating yourself on national television and having to lie to your family and friends about your location for several months.
Some are better at that last one than others. Take 22-year-old nanny Rebekah Martinez, for example, who is currently appearing on the 22nd season of US reality dating show The Bachelor.
Martinez’s not-so-subtle exit from everyday life in order to film the top-secret show was so abrupt and inexplicable she landed herself on the California Department of Justice’s missing persons list.
Martinez reportedly told her mother she would be working on a marijuana farm to cover her time filming. But when she didn’t return as planned, her mother sought help from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
Martinez was reported missing on November 18 by her mother, who claimed she hadn’t heard from her daughter since November 12.
While Martinez’s mother was later able to make contact with her, the sheriff’s department was never able to reach her and thus she was never removed from the missing persons register.
This all came to a head late last week when an article containing photos of 35 people missing from Humboldt County was posted to Facebook and a keen-eyed Bachelor fan recognised Rebekah on the list.
A local newspaper then notified the sheriff’s office, who managed to make contact with Martinez over the phone and strike her from the list.
Martinez addressed the scandal on Twitter, writing: “Honestly the scariest thing about this story is that my efforts to conceal The Worst Drivers License Photo Of All Time have been thwarted.”
She also responded to speculation she’d had cosmetic surgery because her missing persons photograph looked so different to her current appearance.
“I never got a freaking nose job, it’s called contouring, people, look it up,” she said on Saturday. “It’s just overall a very unflattering picture of me when I was 15.”
Filming for The Bachelor is shrouded in secrecy and, depending on how far a contestant advances in the competition, can last for several months.
Sophie Monk, who starred in the most recent season of The Bachelorette Australia, was forced to flee Australia for Thailand to avoid media scrutiny while the show was on air, for fear she’d let something slip.
Martinez is a favourite to win the heart of the US series’ latest bachelor, 36-year-old auto racing driver Arie Luyendyk Jr, despite their controversial 14-year age gap.
— The Bachelor (@BachelorABC) January 23, 2018
Speaking to Luyendyk Jr on Monday (US time), television host Kelly Ripa suggested Martinez’s vanishing act pointed to her being a finalist on the show.
“I have a theory,” Ripa said. “Bekah is the girl you choose. Wanna know why I have this theory? Because she went into lockdown … the deal is when you choose a bachelorette, she has to go underground. She went so deep underground her mom thought she was a missing person!”
Luyendyk Jr gave nothing away, but did share his thoughts on the whole missing persons fiasco.
“I think the PSA for that is: Call your parents,” he joked.