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Mark Anderson wasn't supposed to be the focus of "The Bachelor." He appeared onscreen for a short time with his daughter, Kelsey Anderson, who would go on to become engaged to star Joey Graziadei.

But his sweet support for his daughter — including his hope that she feel a love like the one he experienced with her late mother — knocked fans sideways. (His strong jaw and silver hair didn't hurt.) They collectively blushed, posting heart eyes and a common hope: "Make this man the next Golden Bachelor!"

Turns out that Anderson, who now lives in Louisiana, is from Minnesota.

During a conversation this week, he talked about growing up in Hawley, a small town in northwestern Minnesota, and moving to Fargo, where he graduated from high school. About spending summers at the lake with his cousins, "causing a ruckus." About enlisting in the Army, a career that took him all over, including to Germany.

Even as he moved, he remained a Vikings fan, agreeing to this interview in part to "spread that Minnesota Vikings fandom."

Anderson prefers to be under the radar, he said, chuckling, and has been surprised by the sudden attention from "Bachelor" fans: "It's been a little bit more than a little bit overwhelming."

He watched the hometown episode with his kids, including Kelsey, who was suddenly inundated with messages about her hot dad. She posted a TikTok video thanking people for "the nightmares that I will have tonight in regards to the posts y'all have made about my dad," with clips from some of the "thirst traps" and her father's laughing, red-faced reaction to them.

Throughout the season, Kelsey shared the story of her mother, Denise, who died in 2018, a decade after her breast cancer was diagnosed, and her father's care for her during that time.

Mark Anderson met Denise via the Army. They were both military police, stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas. Anderson was struck by her spunk and sense of humor. "I immediately, immediately felt that connection," he said. "Oh, that's the one, right there."

Together, they had five children, settling in Louisiana as the kids began graduating from high school, to give them some stability. Denise was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, requiring a double mastectomy and the removal of some lymph nodes. But she continued working, continued living.

"We focused on the now," Anderson said.

They attended their kids' practices and games. ("They were in every sport we could get them into.") They helped with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. ("There's nothing like being a cookie dad, I'll tell you that.") They were silly together. ("My kids have so many videos of their mom dancing and laughing and singing.")

When Kelsey told her dad that she was going on "The Bachelor," he thought of his late wife. "I told her she was definitely her mother's daughter," he said. "Far more brave than I."

Anderson hadn't seen the show before, so he found clips on YouTube. Most seemed to feature young women bawling, which worried him.

Then he watched "The Golden Bachelor," which featured people who had lost a spouse through death or divorce, finding themselves single later in life. "Wow," he thought, "this is actually pretty inspiring." It made him believe.

"Dating sites aren't..." he trailed off, laughing. "Traditional ways of dating aren't really applicable anymore. I'm not 21 anymore. Where do you go and find somebody my age? How do you meet?"

But Anderson, 56, is too young for the show, which at least in its first season featured daters in their 60s and 70s. (Gerry Turner, the first Golden Bachelor, was 72.)

"I'm too old for the regular show and I'm too young for 'Golden,'" he said. In a couple years, maybe? Sure. "It's an opportunity... to possibly meet the person I'm meant to be with."

Anderson isn't sure what the next few years hold for him. "Louisiana is not my forever place," he said. Growing up in the Midwest, he loved the four seasons — ice skating, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winters, swimming in the summers.

"Up there you can do a bonfire year-round and be comfortable," he said.

His Instagram profile features a photo of himself in front of Big Ole, the 28-foot-tall statue of a Viking in Alexandria, Minn. Since his daughter made his Instagram profile public, he's amassed more than 6,700 followers.

One of them is Minnesota's own "Golden" runner-up Leslie Fhima, who remains on the short list of possible stars of the first "Golden Bachelorette."