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Meet Oleksandr Budko, the war veteran serving as Ukraine's 'The Bachelor' as conflict continues

Budko volunteered to serve in Ukraine's forces against Russia and soon after lost both his legs in combat.
"The Bachelor" Oleksandr Budko is shown.
Posted at 9:27 PM, May 14, 2024

"The Bachelor" and its infinite spinoffs typically serve as an easy, mind-numbing watch. They're shows to turn on when you want to wind down from the day's events and watch as a tennis star or professional dancer woos a group of beautiful suitors.

But when one particular spinoff is set in Ukraine, a country that can't take the day off from the world around it, how can producers shape a season? They start with a lead who knows it all too well.

The war-torn country's version of "The Bachelor" is set to return with 28-year-old Oleksandr Budko as its lead, whom an executive at Ukrainian TV network STB says will "make you fall in love at first sight." That's probably in part due to his charisma, the STB exec said, but it's also attributable to his story.

In February 2022, Budko volunteered to defend Ukraine against Russia's invasion. He was promoted to platoon commander within six months, STB said in a press release.

Soon after, according to Variety, a shell landed near the soldier during the battle at Kharkiv, causing him to lose both his legs. He underwent intense surgery, complex rehabilitation and now wears prosthetics, STB said.

"The Bachelor" Oleksandr Budko is pictured.
"The Bachelor" Oleksandr Budko is pictured.

The loss didn't stop Budko from pushing on toward his dreams though. He's since won a medal at Prince Harry's Invictus Games, authored a book titled "The Story of a Stubborn Man," appeared in Sarah Jessica Parker-produced film "Front Row," performed with the United Ukrainian Ballet in California and more.

The new "Bachelor" said he believes from his own experiences "that miracles can be found anywhere, and I believe one can find love on the show," STB said in its press release per Variety's translation.

"I am not looking for an ideal. I'm looking for someone whose inner world I can admire," Budko said, per STB and Variety. "I want her to be a person with great respect for veterans who cares about barrier-free and inclusive spaces. For me, 'The Bachelor' is a chance to meet someone I want to try and start a family with."

The Ukrainian "Bachelor" will be produced by STB channel Starlight Media and Warner Bros. International Television.

Budko's season is expected to premiere this fall, and hopeful bachelorettes can apply here.