Kelsea Ballerini is laughing off rumors about her relationship with Chase Stokes.
In a since-expired Instagram Story from Tuesday (March 7), the country star joked about her romance by posting a photo hand-in-hand on the Outer Banks actor’s lap backstage at Saturday Night Live, quipping, “idk seems staged. probably pr.” (Earlier in the week, she had shared another snap with her new love from Studio 8H, writing simply, “Hi chase stokes” — a cheeky reference to his Instagram handle.)
On the March 4 episode of NBC’s late-night sketch series, Ballerini performed two songs — “Blindsided” and “Penthouse” — off her new divorce-centric EP Rolling Up the Welcome Mat and its companion short film, which tell the singer’s side of her split from ex-husband Morgan Evans.
In the wake of that divorce, Ballerini revealed in a sit-down with the Call Her Daddy podcast that she met Stokes the old-fashioned millennial way: by sliding into his DMs. “I was ready to open back up,” she said. “I just felt, why not? I’ve never really dated; I don’t know how it works. I’m like, ‘Let’s just put ourselves out there — let’s just vibe.’ And it’s been fun.”
For his part, her ex recently addressed the former couple’s split with his own song “Over for You,” which Ballerini called “really opportunistic” in the same interview. “I felt really used in that moment,” she said at the time. “And again, his healing journey is his healing journey, I respect that. But publicly exploiting it feels a little nasty to me, before it’s final.”
Ballerini has previously addressed speculation that her romance with the actor is for publicity. The singer mentioned the rumor on TikTok by showing a screenshot of a message sent to gossip account DeuxMoi claiming her recent appearance with Stokes at a college football game a “PR play.”
“I know, I know. Stop reading, stop looking,” Ballerini says in her TikTok, gesturing to the message. “But what is happening, guys? What? Let’s not do this, you know?”