Don’t expect to see Brad Culpepper on Survivor any time soon. In fact, you probably won’t ever see him on the show again. After missing the $1 million prize by a few votes, Brad told SheKnows on the Survivor: Game Changers finale red carpet that he’s done playing the game forever. He also said it was surprising the jury voted to reward the blood on Sarah’s hands even after she had betrayed so many of them.
SheKnows: You were so close to winning the game, falling just a few votes short. How does it feel knowing you were almost there?
Brad Culpepper: I wanted to be sole Survivor. I mean, it’s also a million dollars. That matters somewhat, but that wasn’t my main driver. It didn’t work out, but I’m in good company of near winners — including my wife. I’m not overly disappointed because it’s not the end-all. There’s a lot of good players that don’t win. Stephen Fishbach [Season 18] is an example. Obviously, I wanted to win. I played to win. I made a last-second decision that probably cost me the game, but it is what it is.
SK: Were you surprised by the way the jury treated you? The look on your face showed visible disappointment.
BC: Every season has different juries, and I didn’t expect the jury to reward the blood on Sarah’s hands as a badge. It surprised me they were like, “I can’t believe you lied to me. I can’t believe you swore on your child. I can’t believe you did all this, but great play.” Had I seen Zeke play the first time, I would’ve known to expect that kind of [thing] from him because he’s cutthroat and he respects cutthroat. I think I was expecting there to be hurt feelings toward Sarah. If I brought Tai, he hadn’t hurt any feelings and he would’ve had a lot of goodwill. My misread was that Sarah’s moves, while painful to them [the jury] when they went out, were actually rewarded later. One thing that was hard for me at that time was understanding the moves she had made. I really wasn’t privy to that side of the alliance. I was assuming Cirie and Andrea were making those moves, not necessarily Sarah. As you watch things on television, it’s a little bit different. You see things and you’re like, “Had I known that, then maybe I could’ve done something else.” I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback. At the time, Troy and I were working together, we both thought Tai would be extremely hard to beat because of his likability.
SK: There was a moment with Tai where you were very aggressive, demanding he give you one of his Idols. Did you realize how strong you were coming across at the time?
BC: They showed the tail end of a long conversation with Tai. I was frustrated because he was just waffling. I hated the way it looked because I wasn’t that way out there. Tai and I love each other, and we’ve communicated this whole season. We had a complicated relationship because he lost trust in us when we were in the bottom and put his name down. There were situations I was trying to work with him again, but he kept stabbing me in the back and going against me. It was frustrating. I was like, “Tai, you have two Idols now. This is a chance we can repair our relationship. Let me hold onto it and I will give it back to you.” I really was gonna give it back to him even though it showed me saying I would cut him. That was late into day when I was thinking he was waffling. Survivor tends to take the worst moments and press them out there. It really wasn’t as one-sided as it seemed, but I know the way it looked. That’s why I stood up at the finale and said I love Tai and apologized. I am not a bully, and I’m sorry, Tai.
SK: When you weren’t voted in by the fans to compete a few seasons ago on Survivor: Second Chance, did you think your shot at playing again was forever gone?
BC: Not really. I thought I’d play again. To be truthful with you, that was not a good time for me to go. I’m a lawyer with a lot of clients, and for me to promote myself to go and leave their cases for Survivor just doesn’t resonate well with my clients. I really didn’t promote asking fans to vote for me as if Survivor was more important than their cases. It was a difficult situation. To tell you the truth, when I didn’t go, I was almost relieved that I was not going. I was hoping a new opportunity would come. That time for me would not have been great.
SK: Would you play again?
BC: No. I’m done. I’ve done it. I got to the end. I would encourage one of my kids to play if they wanted to. Monica and I together have played four times. I’m tired. Somebody else can have a turn.