Monica Culpepper got a $100,000 second-place prize for an "intoxicating" run on Survivor: Blood vs. Water with her husband, ex-Buccaneer Brad Culpepper, but she's ready to leave reality TV behind.
Brad, who was the fifth person eliminated from the game, might have some offers coming, however. She said he and ex-teammate Warren Sapp did a "hilarious" tryout video for The Amazing Race and she wouldn't be surprised if the show came calling.
"I'd love to be ditched for it," Monica Culpepper, 43, said of the race around the world. "Why would I really feel like doing anything else again? I'm the only woman in the history of Survivor to win the food challenge, I won three immunity challenges, I came in second place. I'm genuinely happy with my station in life. Diving in something like that again is not appealing to me."
Her Tampa attorney husband, 44, and three kids flew home from Los Angeles on Monday morning, while she had a day filled with media interviews to wrap up a season that has been praised by fans for reinvigorating the franchise. But the show also has come under fire from some critics for what they saw as sexist treatment of female players.
In Sunday's finale, Tyson Apostol won the first season of Survivor to pair veteran players with loved ones. The final three included Culpepper and Gervase Peterson, who competed in the very first season of Survivor almost 15 years ago.
Apostol, a professional bicyclist, won $1 million. Monica Culpepper received one vote from the jury and was peppered with questions along the likes of what's in her heart and to confess an "ugliness" about herself. Culpepper became emotional several times talking about living in the shadow of her NFL player husband and, finally frustrated with the questions, asked, "Have you all never met a nice person who isn't selfish?"
In a phone interview Monday, Culpepper said the jury questioning lasted for more than two hours. One odd moment that wasn't shown on TV was Hayden asking her to write the letter E in the air. She then traced the letter in the air backward so the jury could read it.
"Then Hayden said, 'Did she do it right Jeff?' " Culpepper said. Probst had given Hayden the question and explained it was an exercise in self awareness. She was told it took her a few seconds, but she did it right.
"I hesitated because I didn't know if it should be a capital or lowercase E, but then he told me they probably wouldn't put that on the air because it made Hayden look dumb. Well, thanks, with all the abuse and attacks that I took, why wouldn't you show there was idiotic behavior happening?"
Women were portrayed in stereotypical fashion this season, some critics charged, dismissed by the men as "girls" or "moms" or weak.
NPR's Linda Holmes, who called this season "the most distastefully bro-worshiping, wife-fearing season yet," pointed out that when John Cody's wife, Candace, suggested he give his clue to Monica after a Redemption Island challenge to put a target on her back, host Jeff Probst asked, "Does she tell you what to do all the time?"
When Brad gave Monica the same instruction the following week, nothing was said. Holmes also questioned Brad Culpepper's all-male alliance that was designed to vote out the "weak" even though it was the women who were winning many of the challenges.
And at Sunday night's finale, Monica herself said she came under the kind of attack no man has to endure. She said a female CBS executive stopped her that night to tell her the questioning bothered her.
"They don't ask men, 'What is inside of you?' " Monica said. "It's hard for women out there."
Her strategy, she said, was to stick with Tyson and Gervase because she thought the jury might be furious with them and reward her. She saw no advantage in flipping her alliance and taking out Tyson because she was sure she'd be next.
The Culpeppers kept the Plant High School ball caps that they wore on the show as a salute to their son's high school. They aren't sure yet what they will do with them, she said. They spent Sunday with the rest of the cast signing paraphernalia from the show that will be auctioned for charity.
There is a piece of jewelry on Monica Culpepper's wish list: "I'm getting Brad to buy me that immunity necklace I won for Christmas."