During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Zeke -- who was voted out of Survivor: Game Changers on Wednesday night -- revealed he first met Andrea several years ago while playing a day-long game called Survivor: Brooklyn in a New York City park.
"Andrea and I knew each other before we played Survivor together... [Survivor: Brooklyn] is where I met Andrea, about three years before we would show up on an island together [to film Survivor: Game Changers]," Zeke told The Reporter.
According to Zeke, a friendship then blossomed.
"I became friends with her and a handful of other people," he said.
"There were two guys, Mikey and Alex, who were huge Survivor fans and friends of mine, that Andrea and I shared as friends. We ran in similar circles. I hosted a game of Big Brother: Brooklyn in my apartment, which Andrea played. She did pretty well! We were at a Big Brother viewing party in the summer of 2015 when Andrea said, 'You know, if you applied for Survivor, you would probably get on.' I never really considered it, but that was the impetus."
Zeke told The Reporter that Survivor viewers saw "a little bit of a personal feud" unfold between the pair, and his decision to betray Andrea occurred after Jeff Varner unexpectedly publicly disclosed he was transgender at Tribal Council the night before the tribal merge.
"The complicated thing with Andrea, the reason she's so upset at me, is because we were friends. In my defense, I went through something pretty traumatic, and Andrea is someone who I had known for three years, who had been to my apartment, who I had shared friends with... and that she didn't pull me aside and say, 'F-ck the game. How are you doing? Are you okay?'" Zeke revealed.
"That that wasn't something that was happening made me feel particularly anxious about Andrea, that she must really have written me off. Maybe I read that right, and maybe I didn't."
"But like I said before, a quintessential Survivor skill is the ability to make people comfortable. No one was willing to make me comfortable, except [Sarah Lacina] and [Debbie Wanner]... No one [else] really wanted to be seen with me."
Zeke told The Reporter that his friendship with Andrea included getting her advice before he participated in his casting interviews for his initial 33rd season of the franchise, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.
"I met with Andrea before casting to talk about casting strategies. We talked right before I went out to Season 33. We worked out together a handful of times. I knew that she was in casting for Season 34 before I went out for Season 33. During 33, I would joke with the producers that they were going to ask me back for 34," Zeke recalled.
After Zeke was eliminated from Millennials vs. Gen X, he was in fact immediately invited back for the subsequent all-stars edition, Survivor: Game Changers -- and said he wasted little time contacting Andrea.
"The third person I texted when I had my phone back was Andrea. I said, 'What's your pre-game situation look like?' She said, 'Not good.' I said, 'It's about to look a little bit better,'" Zeke explained.
"But I don't think Andrea and I had long-term plans for each other in this game. I think we both knew it would go until the Final 6 or 7. I don't think we intended to enter this game playing together; we were hoping to find each other at a swap or the merge. But when we both ended up on Nuku and felt we were in bad positions, that bond mattered."
Following the merge on Game Changers, the new Maku Maku tribe took Hali Ford out, after which Zeke devised a surprising plan to get rid of Andrea.
Andrea eventually eliminated Zeke from Survivor: Game Changers on Night 29, three days after Debbie was voted out of Maku Maku. Zeke received votes from Andrea, Sarah, Michaela, Cirie and Sarah despite his close friendship with half of the women.
"I had a tight relationship with Andrea, and I kept seeing Andrea and [Cirie Fields] walk off and have conversations, and I was not included. Eventually, I would see [Aubry Bracco] involved in those conversations. She was supposed to be part of the Mana tribe not being spoken to at the time. I saw that threesome connecting, and nobody was coming to me with information," Zeke told The Reporter.
"Even without me, even without Debbie's extra vote advantage, they still had the numbers to get out [Ozzy Lusth]. What I was doing was going to Sarah and Debbie and saying, 'I want to vote with the Brad and Sierras of the world, because Andrea and Cirie are infinitely more dangerous strategically.'"
"What I was pitching was Andrea should go, as she's the most dominant challenge threat for individual immunity. And they didn't know this, but I had been blindsided by Andrea before, and you never forget the people who blindside you."
Although Ozzy went home at the Tribal Council on Night 24 instead of Andrea, Andrea felt completely backstabbed by Zeke. She was frustrated, livid, and ended up voting for Zeke that night along with Aubry and Michaela Bradshaw, believing Zeke would be the person going home.
"Andrea didn't even get votes that night. I got votes that night. And I was completely left out of that vote. I was trying to put on the best brave face that I could, but you know, maybe I wasn't the happiest camper at that time. I was struggling," Zeke said.
"That Andrea tore into me, when I was left out of the vote and she voted for me... doesn't that even the score? She and Cirie really tore into me. Cirie is the only person who has ever wagged a finger in my face! (Laughs) It was really hard. But we're fine now. She came to my Christmas party. We're buds. After the game was over, we kissed and we made up."