“F— you, Brad Culpepper!” That quote — courtesy of Marissa Peterson —is what most people remember about the former football player’s first go-round on Survivor. Most people, but not him. Brad takes pride in the fact that while his torch may have been snuffed early during that Blood vs. Water season, his wife Monica made it all the way to the end.
Now he wants it to be his turn, and he’ll get his chance when Survivor: Game Changers premieres March 8 on CBS. We asked big bad Brad about Culpepper family bragging rights, what sort of advice his finalist wife gave him before he left, and what he believes other players out there think of him. Watch the video above and read the Q&A below to see what Brad has to say about all of that and more. (Also make sure to follow @thedaltonross on Instagram to see exclusive on-location photos, including one of Brad casting his pre-game vote for whom he’d like to vote off first.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: People would accuse you of having an ego, but how do you manage the other egos out here?
BRAD CULPEPPER: Well, clearly they’re all going to be intimidated by me because I almost made the jury. The season I played in Blood vs. Water was unlike any other season they’ve had. I say that because unfortunately I had to play with somebody on another tribe, who I cared for her Survivor life more than I did my own. So for whatever reason — I have no regrets, it went awesome, Monica did great and I wouldn’t change a thing — I was not able to play Survivor as it’s been played.
It’s a very selfish game. If I’m normally a 10 personality, I’m going to try to rein it down to at least a 5 or 6 until I need to bring it back to a 10 towards later. But I think with so many people trying to be Geppetto of this game, I’m happy to let them assume I’m Pinocchio for as long as I need to until I don’t need to be that anymore.
Your wife made it all the way to the end on her second time out. This is your second time out, so are Culpepper house bragging rights at stake here?
They are. There’s a lot at stake here. Monica’s been on Survivor, I don’t know 55, 60 days? There’s only one spot better than where she got. If I were able to do that, then you’d have to put down the Culpepper name with the Boston Rob, Amber names as Survivor family big time players. But make no mistake, I need to get as far as Monica made, at least, in order to do that.
How you deal with the players you don’t know from last season?
When Jeff introduced them to us — both of them, Zeke and Michaela — he mentioned Russell’s name with them and I didn’t like that. I would have hated to be introduced as like Russell coming back from the season before.… A little bit apprehensive, especially when he said, ‘Oh, these two, just like Russell.’ I was like ‘Oh, if they’re anything like Russell, we need to get rid of them fast.”
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What do you think people think of you, Brad?
Because in my alliance on Blood vs. Water we had a guy alliance, there may be a perception I’m just a bro-down type of guy. I can be, but I think I’m a lot more than that. I think in order for me to win, there are a lot of bro-down guys I do not want to go to the end with. I’d rather go to the end with Sandra or somebody who’s won. It could be Cirie and Sandra. I’m happy to go to the end with them. The perception of me that I think I’m going to have to battle is potentially that I’m just a man’s man, a guy’s guy. That’s not the way that I want to portray myself and I really don’t plan on doing that.
Your wife made it all 39 days. What advice did she give you?
She said wake up every single morning and imagine that you are going home that day because you are unless you do something about it.
For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.