Candice Woodcock Cody wasn’t even supposed to be on Survivor: Blood vs. Water. But after two other contestants were cut from the game due to medical issues, producers flew Candice and her husband John to the Philippines as replacements.
It didn’t work out the way they had hoped. The other contestants saw her as an outsider and voted her off just minutes into the game. She was sent to Redemption Island where she lasted for 12 days before losing a challenge and being sent home.
Cody, a 30-year-old doctor from Washington, D.C., talks with PEOPLE about her game – and why former NFL player Brad Culpepper seemed so annoying.
Candice, how disappointing was it to be voted off before the game even started?
You have no idea! I had used up all my vacation time for the next three years just to play Survivor. So to be voted out so soon was devastating.
But why were you voted out? You’re so good in challenges; you’d think your tribe would have wanted to keep you
Everyone else was in the Philippines for several days before the show began, and they were all looking at each other and making their plans for how to play the game. John and I were flown out at the last minute, so I was an easy first boot. Everyone else had been sitting around Ponderosa, looking at each other and counting their numbers up. I just didn’t fit in.
Did you know that was a possibility?
I did, but I thought I’d have three days to work my way into my tribe. But when Jeff Probst said we were going to vote someone off at the beginning, I thought, ‘Oh no. This can’t be good.’ I didn’t fit into anyone’s plans.
I bet you were relieved to find out that there’s a Redemption Island this season
Oh yeah, absolutely. I was confident in my challenge abilities, and it gave me some sort of safety net to actually play the game. And it got me 11 days to play the game.
John offered to take your place on Redemption Island. Why did you tell him no?
If you watch the first episode closely, Jeff gives Rupert Boneham a chance to switch with his wife. You can see me looking at John and shaking my head no. From a life standpoint, it made no sense. This is my third time playing Survivor, and I’ve gotten to do a lot. He hasn’t. I wanted him to play the game longer.
You didn’t get along with Brad Culpepper. Why not?
Well, to start with, he’s not an evil guy or anything. But hearing him talk is like a constant stream of consciousness. General rule of thumb; if you’re talking all the time, it can become very annoying.
What did he talk about?
Himself. He’d tell his tribe that he makes seven figures by working 12 hours a week. He’d talk about his law firm pays $200,000 a month for advertising. It was all about how much he made and how successful he was.
Bad strategy. People tend to boot the rich contestants.
I thought so too. But Brad simply can’t help himself. He has to talk about how successful he is. Really, he’s not a mean guy, but everyone who came through Redemption Island said that he talked about himself constantly.
But you had a lot of animosity, and you had never even been on a tribe with him.
His wife had voted me off the first minute of the game, and she had put a little heart next to my name, which just drove me crazy for some reason. You’re voting me off; don’t try to soften it with a heart! Then she talks about how I hurt her feelings by talking bad about Brad; um, you’re the one who voted for me.
You and your husband were on Redemption Island, all alone. Were you happy to see Brad join you, or were you unhappy that he was ruining your paradise?
A little bit of both. I was enjoying honeymoon island with John, and then here comes Brad. So I’m happy to see him, because it meant he was voted out. But then I have to listen to him talk about himself! [Laughs] Seriously, though, I don’t have hard feelings against Brad now. He was just hard to take during the game.
On the first two seasons of Survivor, you ended up in eighth place.
Yeah, that seems to be my thing.
This time, you placed a lot lower. Are you disappointed you came out to play?
Absolutely not! This is a chance of a lifetime, and I’ve gotten to do it three times. There was no way I could pass it up; the game is so much fun. And I got to experience it with my husband; we will always have a mutual understanding of the game. I’m so grateful for the experience. I love it so much.