Ali Oetjen was out and about with her mother on Sunday, “hanging” with acclaimed chef Maggie Beer at her Barossa Valley café The Farm Eatery.
In a white dress with ankle boots and a deep tan, the Adelaide radio advertising executive beamed for a photo, which she posted as a tribute to Beer: “Thank you for having us, the food was mouth watering.”
But next day, the taste in Oetjen’s mouth was probably less pleasant.
A story in NW magazine claimed Oetjen’s debut in the upcoming series of Channel 10’s The Bachelorette could be over before it begins.
The magazine alleged Ten is “considering dumping” Oetjen amid “crisis meetings” after fans were critical of the 32-year-old’s casting.
It claimed 2016 The Bachelor runner-up Nikki Gogan would step into Oetjen’s heels.
“They haven’t let go of Ali yet, but they’re really counting on Nikki to save the series,” the magazine claimed.
Within hours, Ten shut down the claims – but the verdict is split on whether the controversy will spark interest and ratings, or will put people off the South Australian for good.
“The rumour that Ali Oetjen will be replaced by Nikki Gogan as the Bachelorette is completely false and misleading,” a network publicist said in a statement to The New Daily.
“Network Ten is looking forward to Ali finding love on The Bachelorette Australia later this year.”
Oetjen seems determined to stay in the spotlight, with recent social media posts including outfit details and offers of discount codes for what she’s wearing in the manner of hardened influencers.
It’s not the first time Oetjen has found herself on the receiving end of buzz she’s not the right candidate for what would be her third crack at finding love on a reality TV show.
After she was announced in April as the next Bachelorette – off the back of her turn on Ten’s Bachelor in Paradise – Oetjen, dubbed a “stage 5 clinger” on Tim Robards’ season of The Bachelor in 2013, copped flak on social media.
The problem was two-pronged: She was caught up in headlines when her Paradise boyfriend, Los Angeles fireman Grant Kemp, said he ended their short-lived romance after she cheated on him.
Ten dismissed Kemp’s claims as “false rumours”, telling The New Daily: “There are two sides to the story of why they broke up. However, this is a private matter and Ali will not be commenting on the misleading claims.”
Any alleged indiscretions weren’t as divisive to viewers as Oetjen’s personality and perceived lack of entertainment value.
“The most boring bachelorette on TV … I’ll need several bottles of wine to make her remotely interesting to watch,” Facebook commenter Jasmine Brill wrote.
Even fellow Paradise resident Jarrod Woodgate – who was enchanted with Oetjen when they met – dissed her, telling Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa, “She was there [in Paradise] for a long time, and basically everything we saw was lame – it was boring. There’s no other way to put it.”
I can’t imagine anything more boring than Ali as the bachelorette #BachelorInParadiseAU
— Amy (@solargirl84) April 30, 2018
When The New Daily called Oetjen’s workplace, Adelaide’s Mix 102.3 on Monday, the news was she is still on staff but was not available to talk.
She’s also started a health and wellness business, and has maintained an upbeat tone on her social media accounts.
Oetjen’s posts this month have included photos of broccoli dinners and inspirational musings reminiscent of Miranda Kerr or Kyly Clarke.
“Go for nature walks, look up at the stars, hug your best friends for tighter and longer, laugh loud, move to your own rhythm, hold your head high, smell the sea breeze,” Oetjen advised followers in one post.
In another, she hinted at hurt and recovery: “Let your soul sing so you can hear it! It doesn’t matter who hurt you or broke you down, what matters is who made you smile again.”
Healthy lifestyle… 🎟 #healthybody #healthymind #healthyheart #healthyspirit For me it’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy & healthy isn’t a goal it’s a way of life. It’s balance in everything we do & consume, flexibility in our lives, peace in our mind & heart, strength in our body & mind, active energy for positive mind & body flow. Go for nature walks, look up at the stars, hug your best friends for tighter & longer, laugh loud, move to your own rhythm, hold your head high, share smiles, be extra kind, smell the sea breeze, face your fears, cartwheel freely, be generous, I can go on forever! All the same know that you’re always good enough, always! #healthylifestyle #alioetjenhealth ⌚️@suunto keeps track of all my workouts 🏃🏼♀️🧘🏼♀️🧗🏼♀️🚴🏼♀️ #activelifestyle #suunto #suunto3fitness
A post shared by Ali Oetjen Health & Fitness (@alioetjen) on
Oetjen allowed a glimpse into her private life in the Sunday Mail’s Home magazine earlier this month, revealing what a potential boyfriend could expect if he made it to a hometown visit.
Calling her house a “sanctuary” that is “filled with positive energy”, she said she collects seashells, loves her NutriBullet and writes “new goals” in her journal in bed.