Juan Pablo Galavis loves to dance salsa, eat empanadas and kick ball — until 2008 he played professional soccer as midfielder and forward. The devoted dad, born to Venezuelan parents 32 years ago, will soon become the first Latino lead on ABC's show "The Bachelor."
"I am the Bachelor, and I am a Latino, and obviously it’s going to be me. So, there’s going to be a lot of Latino things in the show – a lot, you know, just me. And it’s going to be great. It’s going to be a lot of food, a lot of dancing," he told Fox News Latino.
The dating reality show made its debut in 2002 and has been on the air for 17 seasons, but it had never before featured a Latino as the coveted prize.
"It’s not easy to find people from different cultures [for "The Bachelor"]. They don’t understand this show; they don’t want to be in this show. So it's not easy and definitely the reaction has been great and I’m happy," Galavis said.
The handsome Latino was a suitor on season 9 of "The Bachelorette," featuring Desiree Hartsock. He said that being part of that show eased his traditional family into the idea of trying to find love on national TV the second time around.
"When I got [the spot] for 'The Bachelor,' I didn’t even tell my parents till the end, you know. I’ll say, can I get drinks for the lady? I’ve got to do this. So, they were fine, you know, and they respect me and they, you know, support me, so it wasn’t a big deal."
Galavis, a Miami-based music consultant whose past includes promoting popular Latino musical artists such as Chino y Nacho, Obie Bermudez and Jerry Rivera, says a woman must be able to dance to win his heart.
"[I am] looking for a woman that is smart, that is honest, that likes sports a little bit maybe, and is looking for somebody that knows how to dance because I love dancing. That’s one of my biggest turn-ons, like I fall in love with that."
The 5'11" bachelor also admitted his faults — he says he can be stubborn and sarcastic. "There’s people who don’t like that, you know. I like to joke around a lot and there’s people who don’t like that. So those are the bad things," he said.
Galavis said too that whoever he dates must love food. “I like to eat a lot. So if you don’t like to eat, you’re kind of screwed." He was also clear in that his 4-year-old daughter will always be a priority. "If you want to have a plan with me and then my daughter calls me, then I’m going to have to go with my daughter."
Currently Galavis co-parents Camila with ex-girlfriend Carla Rodriguez, an arrangement that makes his appearance on "The Bachelor" a whole lot easier.
"Her mom takes care of her anyways when I'm away. And I travel a lot. So it's not that I'm leaving her to do a reality show."
The Bachelor even feels this new adventure may lead to siblings for his daughter saying he hopes to "maybe find somebody that I can be happy [with] and have a family and then she will have brothers and sisters."
On "The Bachelor" premiere episode airing Jan. 5 Galavis will meet 27 potential matches, women ranging from opera singers to science educators. But the biggest shocker was seeing 7-month pregnant Clare Crawley step out of the limo.
"I was like shocked, obviously, but I’m a dad and I know how that feels," he said. "When they don’t have that other person to raise their child, it’s just tough (...) they need that chance."
The two-part "Bachelor" season premiere kicks off Sunday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Naibe Reynoso is a freelance reporter from Los Angeles, California. Follow her @naibereynoso