Brad Culpepper Retrospective

A look back at the previous game of Brad Culpepper, one of the returning castaways on the upcoming Survivor: Game Changers.

Age: 47
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Previous Season: Survivor: Blood vs. Water
Previous Placing: 15/20
Days Lasted: 14
Correctly Voted for Boot: 4
Votes Received: 7 (including 3 votes after a tie)
Individual Immunity Challenge Wins: N/A
Most Memorable Moment: Being shouted at by castaways at the Redemption Island duel arena – “F**k you, Brad Culpepper.”

What happened in his previous season: Former NFL player, Brad Culpepper, is one of the other pre-merge returnees on Season 34, alongside Michaela Bradshaw and Caleb Reynolds. Brad was a divisive character throughout his time on Blood vs. Water, being at the center of most of the pre-merge drama. He participated in the season with his wife Monica Culpepper, and the game started by separating the loved ones into different tribes. Before tribes left for their designated camps, a First Impressions vote was held, with one person from each tribe immediately getting voted out onto Redemption Island. Brad received one vote from Marissa Peterson. Perhaps because of his early vote, Brad went to work quickly, gathering up the five men on the Tadhana tribe to form a majority alliance (even if his maths was off at first). When Marissa’s uncle, Gervase Peterson, gloated after Tadhana lost the first challenge, it gave further reason for Brad to target Marissa and she was booted unanimously.

When Tadhana lost the second challenge, Brad once again called the shot, targeting Rachel Foulger in an attempt to get Tyson Apostol to switch places with her on Redemption Island. Despite others on the tribe, specifically, John Cody, wanting to get rid of the weaker Ciera Eastin, Brad ended up getting his way and Rachel was voted out in a 5-2-1 vote. It was this vote that fired up the animosity towards Brad, and at the duel arena he faced an angry Tyson and Marissa. Tyson knew what Brad was trying to do and refused to play into his game. Marissa was annoyed at Brad for eliminating stronger players over the weak, and when Brad answered her back, she shouted the memorable “F**k you, Brad Culpepper.” Rachel lost the duel to Marissa and Candice Cody and was eliminated, with Candice receiving an idol clue which she gifted to her husband, John.

The next tribal council is where Brad made his major misstep that ultimately led to his downfall. After an early lead, Tadhana once again lost the immunity challenge, and the tribe was set to eliminate Ciera who had proved a liability in challenges. However, Brad started to have second thoughts about John, his own alliance member. Even though John had been completely honest with Brad, even sharing the idol clues with him, Brad believed that if Candice returned to the game, which seemed likely, that John would listen to his wife over him. Despite their initial reluctance, Brad convinced the tribe to blindside John in a unanimous vote.

There weren’t many places for Brad to hide after that move, and at the next Redemption Island duel, Brad came under attack again. Candice was angry that Brad had turned on John, someone who was loyal to him and a strong tribe member, and she showed her disgust by flipping Brad the bird. John won the duel, followed by Candice, eliminating Marissa from the game permanently. Candice told John to give the idol clue to Brad’s wife Monica, to put a target on her back. However, Brad told his wife to burn the clue, which she did.

When Tadhana lost again, thanks to Ciera’s puzzle performance, Brad considered voting out his alliance mate Caleb Bankston to avoid any more duel arena fallout (Caleb’s loved one Colton Cumbie had previously quit). But he eventually decided that Ciera needed to go, and he would deal with her mother, Laura Morett. However, when Brad failed to turn up for a strategy session, his men’s alliance started to get suspicious. At tribal council, Brad said it might be a good idea to get rid of someone without a loved one; this made Caleb uncomfortable, and he ended up flipping his vote, causing a 3-3 tie between Brad and Ciera. In the revote, Vytas Baskauskas flipped his vote too, voting with Caleb and Katie Collins to eliminate Brad.

Brad’s arrival on Redemption Island was met with great delight by Candice, who was looking forward to her and John beating Brad and sending him home for good. But that didn’t happen. John came in first again, but Brad was able to beat out Candice for second place, eliminating her from the game. John gifted another idol clue to Monica which she again burned. When the Galang tribe lost the next immunity challenge, they decided to vote out Laura Morett, believing that she had the best chance to beat Brad in the duel and send him home, which would also secure them Monica’s loyalty at the merge. The plan worked, as Laura won the duel, with John placing second, eliminating Brad from the game for good.

Brad played a vital role in the Blood vs. Water pre-merge and demonstrated an ability to control an alliance and sway votes his way. But Brad’s style of play made people see him as somewhat of a tyrant and a bully or at least that is the perception of him that was built at Redemption Island. Also, his back and forth decision-making and paranoia caused him to make hasty moves that ended up losing him the trust of his allies. Brad was one of the 32 castaways on the voting ballot for Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance but did not make it onto the final cast.


Biggest Strength: Ability to control a vote.

Biggest Weakness: Maths? Joking aside, Brad’s biggest weakness was second guessing himself and not listening to others which made them view him in a bad light.

What he considered his mistake: In post-show interviews, Brad said that not reassuring Caleb was what led to his downfall. In an interview with ET Canada, he said “My mistake at the end – I wasn’t planning on voting Caleb, I should have reassured him of that before Tribal Council. I didn’t do that well enough, and while he didn’t go into Tribal Council planning on voting for me, he got nervous and he made this 11th-hour change.” He said the same thing in an interview with Uproxx, “My mistake was taking [Caleb] for granted.”

Brad is one of twenty returning castaways who will compete on Survivor: Game Changers which premieres March 8 on CBS. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more cast retrospectives and other pre-season content.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

7 responses to “Brad Culpepper Retrospective”

  1. Brad is the perfect example of how NOT to play the pre-merge portion of the game. Too fast too soon. If he makes the merge and demonstrate the same ability to control the votes (whice I doubt, because this cast is much stronger then the “loved ones” tribe), he may have a shot to get to the FTC with a chance of winning.

    • Nah. I can imagine this guy will play like every other Basic Alpha Bro ever in Survivor: Show off his and compare whose is the biggest in the island. After that, he gets the “proper treatment” for those kinds of players.

      So NOT looking forward to this guy.

      • you just prejudice, because Brad isn’t someone you can relate too! It’s allgood, kinda sexist though

  2. I was really meh on Brad both during the voting for Cambodia and when this cast was spoiled. But reading this retrospective has actually made me excited to see him – he IS a player, he was NOT boring and tbh he’s one of the more sensible choices for this “Game Changers” theme. Yes, the Blood vs. Water season was a game changer in itself, but he was the player who tried to use the system at Redemption Island to his own benefit.

  3. Anyone see an early Brad vs Cirie storyline? Surely they’d have different views on many survivor related things.

  4. F U, Brad Culpepper!

    Sorry, I had to.

    I’m looking forward to another entertaining downfall from this guy. He played terribly last time so I can only imagine what kind of downfall he’ll have this time. I don’t like him, but he is definitely an entertaining person to root against.

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