Can Brad & Monica Culpepper survive "Survivor?"

7:30 AM, Sep 17, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- They're certainly not strangers to the spotlight.  In Tampa Bay, Brad Culpepper may be more recognizable in television commercials and billboards as a personal injury attorney than he is as a former Buccaneer player.  His wife, Monica, was part of last year's "Survivor: One World," where she came up short on the million dollar prize.

Now both of them will be on the new season of the reality show giant in "Survivor: Blood vs. Water."

This season's twist sees former players competing with, and ultimately against, their loved ones to outwit, outplay, and outlast and be crowned Sole Survivor.

As the premiere of "Survivor" neared, Brad and Monica Culpepper sat down with 10 News anchor Heather Van Nest to share some of their experiences -- but no secrets! -- of their time in the Philippines. It was something that nearly didn't happen because Monica, the veteran, was determined to never play "Survivor" again.

"The phone rang," said Monica Cullpepper, "and I said 'That's it. I'm not playing.' They said, 'No, no, no, no. This time you get to bring Brad.'"

"I had to talk her into it two times," added Brad Culpepper. "She didn't want to do it the first time. So I had to talk her into that one. Then the second time, I'm like, 'C'mon! This is the only way I can go!'"

Monica said "Survivor" is right in her husband's wheelhouse: a former pro athlete and Eagle Scout who grew up on Dog Island in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. He could easily handle the "survival" aspect of the game. But so could she.

"I'll eat worms, I'll eat cow eyeballs, whatever it is you have to do, because he has rubbed off on me," said Monica.

The couple said the hardest part about being on "Survivor" was leaving their three children, Rex, Judge, and Honor.

"We had a great support system with both our family and friends," said Brad.

"The only way we would have done it was with both sets of grandparents, both aunts, both uncles," added Monica.

In fact, their children insisted the couple go.

"It was a great opportunity for she and I to kind of reconnect and go 'Okay, let's go on this great adventure that we'll tell our grandkids about one day,'" said Brad.

What the Culpeppers didn't anticipate was one of the twists of the game -- returning players joined by a family member. And they weren't prepared to come fact-to-face with the player who was mostly responsible for Monica getting voted off the first time: Colton Cumbie.

"Right away my strategy was that I'd rather play with the Devil than against him," said Monica. "So with someone like Colton, or somebody else on your tribe that you meet that's intolerable ... if you're not patient you'll go home before them."

Obviously, the Culpeppers are sworn to secrecy about their "Survivor" outcome. But one thing is for sure: this will be Monica's last adventure with the show. But Brad is ready to hit the beach again.

"She's not had the duty of surviving with her spouse on 'Survivor,'" said Brad Culpepper. "She needs to deal with that."

"I'll be just fine," counters Monica. "This is what I do."

"Survivor: Blood vs. Water" premieres Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 p.m. on 10 News.  

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