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Denise Stapley
Hometown: Marion, Iowa
Current residence: Marion, Iowa
Previous season: Winner of Survivor: Philippines (Season 25)
Occupation: Therapist (LMHC, & AASECT Certified Sex Therapist)

Hobbies: Swimming, kickboxing, walks/runs with our rescue dog Mocha, and just about anything else that can get me outside.

Pet peeves: People who go through life with a sense of entitlement and complete lack of self-awareness.

Three words to describe you: Stubborn, determined, and driven

When did you first watch Survivor?
I started watching Survivor in 2000 with my husband Brad.

Do you still watch Survivor?
Ummmmm, yes!!! Every Wednesday.... work, activities, and life in general is planned often around our Wednesday night family viewing!

Who is your inspiration in life?
This hasn't changed for me and I continue to be inspired by anyone who embraces life with passion. When you see it... you can feel it... and you can't help but be impacted and inspired by it.

What does Survivor mean to you and your family?
Survivor is something that is a shared experience for all of us. We've laughed, we've cried... and we've hooted and hollered at our TV many times over the years. It's the one time where we don't just slow down—we stop and are all focused 100% on the same thing. It's our time.

What is one way playing Survivor changed your life?
I think Survivor has changed my life in many ways... but not because of the money. At the core, I remain the person I was before, which until very recently included driving the SAME car, now almost 12 years old, complete with dents and duct tape patching. But playing Survivor fueled parts of me that were always there, maybe untapped, or maybe pushed me to honor those parts. It's made me more open to life experiences in general, fueled the desire to travel, and now plays a huge part in our family motto of #GoSeeDo (go places we don't normally get to go, see people we don't normally get to see, do things we wouldn't normally do). Ultimately, it was a reminder that life is too short, so suck it up during the crappy parts, and embrace and appreciate the rest.

As Survivor approaches Season 40 and celebrates 20 years on television, what does it mean to be a part of the legacy?
It's funny, this answer should be easy... but it's not. Being given the chance to play a second time is huge in and of itself. But for it to be the 40th! EPIC! The game has changed SO much since Season 1 and has brought with it so many incredible players. It feels like a huge honor to be able to be a part of that legacy (even if I was on one of the worst tribes EVER!) so I don't take it lightly.

How will you play differently than you did in your past season?
My honest answer... I have no clue! LOL! Why?? Because we are who we are, good or bad, and once you're out on that island... all of the best-laid plans, intentions, etc. can quickly dissipate into a miserable mess. So in truth, the core of how I played the first time will remain: adapt, adapt, adapt. And hope that the Survivor "gods" are in my favor.