The 26-year-old, who currently lives in Austin, Texas, had 30 women show up at the mansion for a chance to explore a connection with him during the Monday, January 23, return of the ABC series.
Five of the ladies — Bailey, Brianna, Brooklyn, Cat and Christina — were familiar faces who Zach met at the live After the Final Rose taping for season 19 of The Bachelorette in September 2022. The advantage — especially Brianna’s win of America’s first impression rose, which guaranteed her safety during night one — upset some of the other contestants.
“I didn’t really know in the moment — because I’m just getting pulled here and there — that the girls were really jealous or felt really jealous about that,” Zach exclusively told Us Weekly. “And I mean, it’s so unique to me. I can completely understand where they’re coming from, of like, ‘Oh, that’s unfair. They had extra time.’ But in reality, like, in the grand scheme of things, the right thing will always happen.”
Several women caught Zach’s eye during the evening, including Greer, who earned his first impression rose. He also kissed (at least) seven women and while Madison was one of the lucky ladies to get a peck from Zach, she spiraled after seeing him canoodle with other women.
Not long after their “subpar” kiss, Madison started to sob. “That is so embarrassing,” she said. “I want to be wanted. It’s so f—king embarrassing. … I wanted to get his first impression rose. I’m so f—king heartbroken.”
While Madison was heading down a “villain” path after upsetting the other women by stealing Zach more than once, she left before the first rose ceremony after it was clear there was nothing between her and Zach.
“I cannot believe I gave up my life for him,” she said after walking away in tears. “I know what I deserve and it’s not that. I know for a fact that he does not know what he’s missing out on.”
Zach subsequently turned his group of 30 into 21, sending home contestants including Sonia, Lekha, Olivia M. and Holland.
The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. Scroll through for more highlights and how Zach feels looking back: