After 18 suitors, four intruders and bunches of roses, Sophie Monk finally got down to Fiji with her final two candidates — early favourite Jarrod Woodgate, a vineyard manager from Victoria, and sudden charmer Stu Laundy, heir to a reported $500 million fortune from publican father Arthur Laundy.
In the finale that aired Oct. 26, Monk's family met both guys and after a single date with each of the finalists, she teared up as Stu declared that despite being unhappy for a long time, she put his life back together again.
And that's when Sophie, 37, gave her finale rose to to Stu, 44.
"It's so weird now to be able to talk about it," Sophie tells WHO. "It's like being naked! But my dad said, "You've got to go with humour," and I agree. There is nothing that can buy happiness, at all, and if you're happy together, and have fun, that's the best thing you can do."
So is this love? "Yes, definitely," Sophie says. "It's weird to say I've got a boyfriend publicly, but yes."
Also thrilled for Sophie is her best mate Oscar Gordon, who had accompanied Sophie through Thailand in the weeks leading up the finale. "I'm so excited because I think for so long, she's had it really hard," Oscar tells WHO. "I've seen guys not treat her well, she's been abused, and to finally see her with someone who can make her laugh and does make her feel good makes me happy."
Although Sophie and Stu have seen each other during permitted lockdown encounters, she says most of their continuing courtship has been on the phone. Alas, "I'm a talker and he's not a talker," she concedes, "so that doesn't work because he wants to go and I want to stay on the phone for hours!"
Even so, having a confidante has been important for Sophie, who appreciated it when Stu told her how he felt she had restored him. "Oh, it's a lovely feeling," she says, "because I've traveled the world and felt really lonely, similar feelings to what he's had, and it's just nice to meet someone who can relate to that as well."
It doesn't hurt that they also hit it off very quickly on the show, despite what Sophie calls "complications" — that Stu is still in the process of ending his marriage and has revealed he has had a vasectomy. "There were complications there and I wanted to ignore it," she admits. "You want to go with what's best for you, which is like working with your head, and I just couldn't deny. it. You can't go with anything but chemistry. It's not a mathematical thing."
The pair also share a similar sense of humour and, away from the cameras, "he's a lot softer," Sophie says, "and there's a lot of comedy that you didn't see because they only have a certain amount of time on the show, but he's a lot funnier than you've seen."
Pal Oscar agrees, "He is funny. I mean, we like to think we're the funniest people in the room but he's entertaining, he's a good time. you want your best friend to be happy, so I love that."
As for what's next, Sophie says: "I don't know yet. I love being based on the Gold Coast but having said that, I'm never home, ever. I'm always in Sydney. So, I just think I travel a lot and Stu loves traveling, and I love working, and he works smart and I work hard, so he's got time off obviously, so hopefully he can travel with me because I want to keep working. Stu's got the self-esteem to support me and not feel emasculated."
In terms of Stu's four children, Sophie would love to meet them but is willing to wait for that opportunity. "I am when he's ready and they're ready," she says. "I definitely respect that, and I love children, so whatever they want, really."
But Sophie says she has stayed friends with her runner-up, Jarrod. "I think Jarrod's probably the pick my mum would want for me," she says. "He's such a kind, genuine person, and I never get to meet anyone like that. He really cared for me and I could see it in his eyes."
Sophie also remains Jarrod's fiercest ally. "He's lovely and I feel really bad that he's being picked on, to be honest," she says. "He doesn't deserve to be picked on and he's really, really lovely. He was true to himself and I liked him a lot." Yet letting Jarrod go, "was the worst thing ever," she adds. "I don't like letting people down, and I've dated people too long because I can't say no, so it was horrible. I knew I would wreck his heart and I didn't want to do that."
Stu, though, confessed all that he had to on-air to woo Sophie. "I think I appreciated that a lot because I was very vulnerable on the show," she says, "and to see someone else do that, I needed that, because if you're willing to risk everything like I did, then you're the one."
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