Zach and Rachel fell for each other during the 2022 season and viewers watched the pilot go into their overnight date unsure whether she would pick Zach, Tino Franco or Aven Jones. After his fantasy suite, however, the Austin resident broke things off with Rachel, telling host Jesse Palmer that he felt like Rachel was “very inauthentic” behind closed doors.
“Her response — it felt so cold. I thought, maybe, that I meant more,” Zach said on the show at the time. “One of the things I fell in love with was she made me feel, like, special. And I cared for her and I question if any of that was real or if that was just an act.”
In September 2022, ABC named Zach the Bachelor for season 27. While promoting the January 2023 premiere, he told Us Weekly that there was “a lack of communication” throughout his time with Rachel.
“There was a lot of question marks and a lot of guessing. And when it came down to last season with Rachel, a lot of stuff came to fruition and a lot of big question marks and surprises and that leads to shock,” Zach said. “And for me, one thing that I pride myself on is the fact of having communication throughout [my time as the Bachelor]. So I even told all the women on night one, like, good or bad, please tell me how you’re feeling. Because I will. I know what I want out of this and I know what it takes to have that healthy relationship … communication. And that lacked with Rachel and I last season.”
Rachel — who split from fiancé Tino while the season was airing after he admitted to kissing another woman — has been supportive of the network’s choice to give Zach another shot at love.
“I haven’t had a conversation with him, but I truly think he is a great pick for The Bachelor, just from what I know of him, and I think he’s going to do a really great job,” Rachel told The Hollywood Reporter in September 2022. “Gabby [Windey] and I are both supporting him as lead. We know it’s a really difficult position to be in but can definitely be so worth it if you follow your heart.”
Zach, meanwhile, told Us that he “1,000 percent” has more empathy for Rachel after being the one to hand out the roses.
“You can never really foresee what the actual experience is. They put you through the wringer and it’s an amazing experience, but oh my gosh, you can do and say some of the dumbest stuff that you would never normally do,” he said. “But you were just in this world that’s moving a million miles an hour and it’s not easy. It’s fun, but it’s not easy.”
Zach’s journey kicks off on ABC Monday, January 23, at 8 p.m. ET. Scroll through for more from Zach and Rachel on their split: