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There are three measures of “Survivor” success; winning the million-dollar prize, winning the $100,000 fan-favorite vote, and getting a last-name nickname from host Jeff Probst.
Brad Culpepper managed to land one of those achievements on his first day.
I spoke to Culpepper the morning after his Redemption Island elimination and had a chance to ask him about Caleb’s stratagem, Candice’s demeanor, and accusations of sexism…
Holmes: How is it going?
Culpepper: Good, but I’d rather be out of on that island.
Holmes: I was at your camp, it was a beautiful location.
Culpepper: You were there when I pulled that snake out?
Holmes: I was.
Culpepper: God! Nobody even remembers that! I wish someone would have gotten a camera shot of that. You at least witnessed that.
Holmes: I did. I can verify that for future generations.
Holmes: Let’s talk about your first night on Redemption Island. It looked like you came in there and were very apologetic, but they were shutting you down. Did the Codys ever come around?
Culpepper: Yes. Candice was very cold most of that night. I’ve got teenagers so I’ve had difficult conversations. I tried to diffuse it the best I could. John warmed up pretty quickly. He and I got along pretty well. I explained to him that if we were playing regular “Survivor” he would have been my #1 and we would’ve gone to the end five guys strong. But, Monica is my #1. I explained that to John and he understood. Candice probably did too, but she was angry. The next day she warmed up and we hugged it out. There was less animosity at Redemption Island with her than was portrayed. With other people the screaming was worse than you saw on TV.
Holmes: Speaking of those blow-ups. Were you worried that you were going to mess up Monica’s game over at Galang?
Culpepper: Well look at Tyson, he stands up and says, “Mr. football guy, I’m going to get you.” I’m thinking, “Oh my God, I might be ruining Monica’s alliance.” I didn’t know who she’s aligned with, they hadn’t voted anyone out. I have no idea what’s happening over there. I’m assuming she’s with connected people over there, because once players become disconnected they’ll become their own faction. At that point, I was trying to make it to the merge with Monica so I vote out John who’s not connected or a guy like Caleb. But the fact remains, I’m worried about voting off someone who has a loved one on Monica’s tribe who’s going to say, “To heck with Monica, her husband voted my loved one off, I’m going to get rid of her.” And I’d already told my five guys, “If Monica gets voted out, I’m taking her spot. Treat her as best you can.”
Holmes: At one point Candice accused you of being sexist. What’s your response to that?
Culpepper: Because I talked to my wife about what to do with the clue? That’s sexist?
Holmes: There was talk of you shushing women on Tadhana.
Culpepper: I don’t want to even acknowledge that. I don’t even know what shushing is. That was coming from Marissa and Marissa was very angry. Candice, all of her information was coming from other sources. You would have to ask the people on my tribe who spent some time with me. And as for burning the clue, she was trying to rip the clue, which wasn’t shown on television, to get rid of it. But it was folded up and was hard to rip. I told her to burn the clue and someone took that as me telling her what to do. I promise you, Monica is not the type to be married to a sexist man. And I’m very liberal. The shushing thing was absurd.
Holmes: Caleb said he knew you were tossing his name around.
Culpepper: I wasn’t telling him that. Vytas and I spent all afternoon talking about this. But at the end of the day, Vytas was convincing me that Monica was fine, that she was probably with Aras. And Caleb would be an asset to us after the merge because he was unconnected. And I was like, “Alright.” I wasn’t going to vote Caleb out and Vytas explained that to him. I should have said, “There was some conversation, but we are tight, we are strong. We’re not voting against you.” Because there was no talk going into that Tribal about voting me out. He changed his mind at the last minute. It was a very shrewd move, but I don’t know if it was smart or not because he was so under the radar. I went to Redemption Island and said, “That guy with the cowboy boots? Don’t sleep on him.” And everyone on Monica’s tribe now knows that.
Holmes: My big concern going into this season was that if I knew I was safe, I’d consider throwing a challenge to keep my loved one safe. On day one you and Marissa had a bit of an argument over that strategy.
Culpepper: Don’t misread what I said, I never said I’d throw a challenge. Marissa kept saying “This guy will throw a challenge.” That’s not what I said. I said I’d feel bad about her not having a tarp. There’s a difference. And it’s true. We lost every challenge and it wasn’t because of us throwing anything. Every section I was in we were winning. I knocked…
Culpepper: Gervase in the sumo thing. We had a big lead in the spoke puzzle. We had a lead in the jigsaw and the skeeball. Every portion I had was a lead going in. We never threw a challenge. Or, I wasn’t a part of any of that. But I was happy that Monica got the fishing gear and the scones. I really wanted to win so I could get a feel for what was going on in their tribe. Had they been able to vote someone out, I’d have had a better feel for who she was with.
Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with John.
Culpepper: Solid, strong, and trusting.
Culpepper: Solid, strong, trustworthy.
Culpepper: Thinker, smart.
Culpepper: She got screwed. She didn’t get an opportunity to play her game. She’s smart and she’s shrewd. I think she could’ve been a good “Survivor” player and through no fault of her own she got jettisoned.
Holmes: That almost sounds like Monica during “One World.”
Culpepper: Monica never got a chance. In “One World” there was an alliance within five minutes of landing on that beach. So Monica said to me, “Brad, do not have what happened to me happen to you. When you land get an alliance quick.” And while the edit makes it seem like I was sprinting from one guy to the next, that was four days of me talking to people who were wanting to play the game. The girls were not interested in talking about strategy or the game and the guys were all, “I’m in.” And because Monica was not in the original alliance she never got a chance. She was underneath and then was there a mix-up she was immediately targeted by Colton and she was out of the game.
Holmes: Both you and Monica referred to your gameplay as being her “Shield.” Do you feel like you were successful in that aspect?
Culpepper: My #1 priority was giving Monica a chance to play. My #2 priority was to not be the reason why she was voted out. And as the game was progressing it was clear to me that her tribe thought I was some terrible ogre even though they never spent time with me. My real tribemates talked glowingly of me when I went to Redemption Island. They all said, “We miss you, you cooked and cleaned and all that stuff.” So, judge my gameplay on how well Monica does. Because at this point she is playing the game. She never got a chance to play in 24 (“One World”) and here in 27 (“Blood vs. Water”) she’s playing full speed ahead. She’s playing the game as well as anyone and I’m very proud of her.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes