Survivor: Game Changers cast member Brad Culpepper tried to play like his wife, Monica Culpepper, and he ended up replicating her game in eerily similar ways.
Brad coined the phrase “What would Monica do” in the Survivor: Game Changers premiere and frequently referenced his wife throughout the season. This strategy ended up working for him, and he made it all the way to Final Tribal Council, and despite getting three votes from the jury, he was not able to clinch the win, losing to Sarah Lacina.
Oddly enough, Brad now coincidentally has the same record as Monica. Monica played in Survivor: One World and only made it 14 days before being voted out. She then returned for Survivor: Blood vs. Water, which was Brad’s first season, and she made it to the end and placed as the runner-up. Brad also made it 14 days before being eliminated from Survivor: Blood vs. Water and then became the runner-up of his second season.
Additionally, Monica won three Individual Immunity Challenges in Blood vs. Water, the most that season, while Brad won the most Immunities in Game Changers with five. As for their social games, Monica and Brad were criticized for different reasons by the jury, with Monica being perceived as a coattail rider and Brad having an aggressive personality. Either way, their personalities in the game ended up costing them the $1 million and the title of Sole Survivor. As such, Brad’s hope of doing “What Monica would do” played out almost to a T.
Brad has spoken about his devotion to Monica both on and off Survivor. He told Parade before Game Changers that he was still playing “for Monica,” feeling like he owed her that after she supported him for so many years in the NFL.
“I played ten years in the NFL. I had to put myself and football number one ahead of Monica, ahead of God and ahead of family. I don’t think I realized it until I was done. The sacrifices she had to make… first of all, if I hadn’t been married to her, I would have played two years, not ten.”
Brad was upset that Monica was voted out so early in Survivor: One World, so even when he was voted out of Blood vs. Water, he was elated to see her make it all the way to Final Tribal Council.
“When I was playing with her, it felt like I was going to get her voted out of here, so let’s set it straight,” Brad recalled. “My number one priority was that. When she got to the end… everybody hated me, but it was worth it. I wouldn’t change any of it. I would have liked her to win, but Tyson played a great game. I get it. But I was so happy she got the whole banana. She got the whole thing.”
Now, Brad has gone through the exact same experience as Monica as a losing finalist in the game of Survivor. Ironically, Survivor host Jeff Probst conducted an experiment in the Game Changers reunion and showed that Brad could have changed this fate.
Probst presented the hypothetical of voting out Sarah at the Final Four instead of Tai Trang and asked the jury who they would have voted for to win the game. Five said they would have voted for Brad and five said Tai. This would have been the first ever Survivor tie at Final Tribal Council, and Probst revealed that the third finalist would have broken the tie; in this case, Troyzan Robertson. Since Troyzan was such a strong ally of Brad’s throughout the game all the way to the end, he would have cast his vote for Brad and made him the winner of Survivor: Game Changers.
Survivor will return for its 35th season this fall Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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