Monica, a returning Survivor: One World castaway and 42-year-old former NFL wife and homemaker from Tampa, FL, received only one vote in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed during the broadcast.
Veteran player Tyson, a 34-year-old former pro cyclist and shop manager from Provo, UT, seemed to receive all seven of the other jury votes, winning the $1 million grand prize. Returnee Gervase Peterson, a 43-year-old cigar lounge owner from Philadelphia, PA, also made it to the Final 3 but failed to receive any jury votes.
During a Monday conference call with reporters, Monica talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: Blood vs. Water experience. Below is the concluding portion of Monica's interview. Click here to read the first half. Also, check our Survivor show page for more interviews with the season's finale castaways.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised it took Ciera Eastin so long to realize she was No. 4 in your alliance and that you guys were able to keep her with you for as long as you did?
Monica Culpepper: Well you know what? Ciera was a linchpin in that. I mean, her coming over with us and buying into sending out [Caleb Bankston] and essentially blindsiding Hayden at that point was huge. And let me tell you, Tyson had gotten her, but you know, Gervase and I -- I was using the motherly-massage technique. She had said, "Gosh, I feel so bad. I've given my word to these people."
And I said, "Look, in Survivor, it's okay to change your mind. And don't let relationships that you have formed in the last 15 or 17 days jeopardize the million dollars that you could potentially get that would change your life forever over some friendships for that short time. You got to think about you and what's best for Ciera."
And it's funny. When they were trying to manipulate me, it was never about, "What's best for Monica?" It was like, "Let's personally attack Monica and think she can be swayed with that type of persuasion."
So, I wasn't surprised because Tyson and I -- well, she had said, "I want to go to the Final 3 with Tyson." And Tyson had said, "Well who else do you want?" And she said, "Monica. I'm sure I could beat her. She's got enough money, nobody will vote her."
So it's funny. I mean, Tyson had of course placated her and said, "Perfect. Me, you and Monica will go Final 3," even though it really was with Gervase. And I think she figured it out when -- she figured it out before we went into that Tribal and we drew rocks.
There was a scene that wasn't shown. The three of us were in the hammock and [Katie Collins] was underneath the hammock, and she heard a conversation of ours and she could go back and tell her, "X,Y,Z." So anyway, we think that that's where she sort of figured it out.
Reality TV World: During the game, you were skeptical that Ciera was telling you the truth when she was talking about all the negative things she insisted Tyson and Gervase had said about you. I was just wondering, how do you feel now that you've had a chance to watch the season and discuss it with everybody?
Monica Culpepper: You know what? I realized this. Survivor is one of the most brutal games ever created. It's under the most harsh conditions and it'll change people's lives there, and they're willing to do anything to get to the end. And the strategy that she used was sort of verbal attacks at me, and of course I forgive her, of course I understand that the game meant so much to her.
Whether it was what I would do or not, that's my own game, but I certainly respect Ciera's game. She was a baller out there and she did everything she could and she wanted it. And for that, my hat's off.
My time sleeping on the beach with Katie and Ciera are some of my fondest moments out there. From the minute [my husband Brad Culpepper] left, I was the lonely card out there on a season of "loved ones." Everyone had someone but me. And those girls -- we had some laughs out there and enjoyed each other's company even though TV doesn't allow for all that to be shown.
Reality TV World: Knowing everything you know now and how things played out, would you have done anything differently? Do you think there's any way you could've gotten to the end and actually won?
Monica Culpepper: No, there's not anything I would've done differently. There wasn't anything more I could do. I think I did it all, you know?
I maneuvered in such a way, I won the individual immunities, I gave the rewards away, I was the cook, I was the clean-up -- you know, Ciera got sick out there and I took care of her. I stayed true to my word. I was honest. Playing an honest game meant a lot to me.
And I genuinely -- if it wasn't going to be me -- I wanted it to be someone I was happy for, and I would be happy for Gervase and happy for Tyson. If I could change one thing, it would be this. I'm retired from Survivor and I so want to see more of Brad out there.
I thought his game was awesome and it was unfortunate that he and [Rupert Boneham] were playing on a "loved ones" season when they were the only two that their "loved ones" meant more than their game.
It was a joint effort in me getting second prize, because the moves that Brad on his tribe of Tadhana made are what helped me get there. [John Cody] was a fierce competitor. Brad beating [Candice Cody] in that duel was huge. She's a force. Sending out [Marissa Peterson], she was tough -- and then [Rachel Foulger]. Rachel would've been Final 3 with Tyson, not me, so it was a collaborative effort from the Culpepper front.
And you know, somebody gave me an interesting question on, "If you got a phone call and [Jeff Probst] said, 'One Culpepper is coming back to play. I don't care who it is. Call me back and tell me.'" Inexcusably, it would be Brad. I want to see him play without being worried about putting his wife first.
Reality TV World: How did you end up back on the show? Was it a situation where the producers kind of knew about Brad already and they initially, from the beginning, were interested in you and him as a pair, or did they want you and asked you for a list of "loved ones?"
Monica Culpepper: From the first season that I got on, somebody through his NFL career, I guess they knew that he grew up on an island in the Gulf in a stilt house. He speared 42 fish. I think that's more than [Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth] ever did. There's not enough time to show that.
Anyway, he's also got the whole social thing going. He's a freaking meteor. Anyway, they had originally sort of found him and then it turned into, "Wait, he's got this great wife and they have a great relationship with each other" -- not a great wife but a great relationship with a wife he's been married to for 21 years, college sweethearts.
And then it turned into, "Wait a minute, why don't we take her to play Survivor?" And Brad said, "Absolutely. You have to do it. It's always been about me. Go, go, yes, you have to do it!" And I'm like, "Wait, I haven't even camped out!"
And he's like, "Babe, you got to go do it." And so, I think when the idea popped in their heads for "loved ones," they already knew what a superstar Brad was. So we were on spring break and as soon as we finished our trip out in Arizona, we hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camped for two days.
And they flew Brad out to LA. The first meeting was with Jeff. They visited for probably an hour, and at that point, they said, "We got to do loved ones." And so, I think I got invited back not necessarily because of my stellar gameplay on One World (laughs) but because we were a fun package that maybe America might get something out of.
Above is the concluding portion of Monica's interview. Click here to read the first half. Also, check our Survivor show page for more interviews with the season's finale castaways.