Well, it finally happened. A reporter in attendance for the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing used his time to ask President Donald Trump if he would consider pardoning the Tiger King himself, Joseph Maldonado-Passage (a.k.a. Joe Exotic).
New York Post reporter Steven Nelson, in light of First Son Donald Trump Jr. drawing attention to Joe Exotic’s case, asked Trump if he had any thoughts on pardoning Joe Exotic. Trump assumed that Trump Jr. was the son to whom the reporter was referring. Trump then asked for particulars of Exotic’s case before asking the reporter if he was recommending a pardon.
An amused Nelson denied it. A rare coronavirus presser chuckle was shared.
Trump then said, “I’ll take a look.”
Millions upon millions of Americans self-quarantining turned Netflix’s Tiger King into the most watched show in America. If you’ve watched the show, you would certainly know that Joe Exotic was sentenced in January to 22 years in a murder-for-hire plot, illegal animal trafficking, and animal abuse case. The target–the CEO of a rival animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida–had beaten him in a trademark infringement lawsuit in 2013.
Tiger King covered the long, ugly rivalry of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. She tried to run him out of business, saying that his roadside zoo in Oklahoma was unethical. For his part, Maldonado-Passage routinely engaged in hostile rants about Baskin on his online show. He said she was a hypocrite, and that she murdered her ex-husband Don Lewis—either by feeding him to her tigers or by hiding his body in a septic tank. (It’s a whole thing; Baskin has denied the allegation.)
Even O.J. Simpson has felt free to accuse Baskin of taking Lewis out. Again, Baskin has vehemently denied the allegations. Even still, a Florida sheriff hoped Tiger King’s popularity would help solve the cold case of Lewis’s disappearance and presumed death.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected Joe Exotic’s time behind bars. But life behind bars hasn’t prevented the inmate from filing a civil lawsuit over his conviction. He claims that he was set up.
“It is you the people of the world who can change what has been done,” said a post from his Facebook account. “Please keep this alive until someone reaches our President for a Pardon because it’s the right thing to do.”
The petition now has more than 40,000 signatures.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[Image via Netflix screengrab]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]