Joe Exotic Says ‘Tiger King’ Was A Setup, Ruined His Life

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In the Spring of 2020, all of America was captivated by a quirky, gay, country music singing zookeeper named Joe Exotic. “Tiger King” was a smash hit.

But for the show’s star, things didn’t end so well.

In an interview with TMZ Friday, Joe Exotic says the Netflix series “ruined his life.”

Serving a 21-year prison sentence for a murder-for-hire plot, Joe maintains his innocence. And now he’s saying the entire show was a setup.

“I didn’t do ‘Tiger King,’ he said. “I was filming just a little tiger show in 2016 and 2017. And then Netflix and (director) Eric Goode and all of them turned this into this conspiracy to kill Carole Baskin to make a show.”

Joe Exotic Says 'Tiger King' Was A Setup, Ruined His Life
Joseph Maldonado-Passage (a.k.a. Joe Exotic) is serving a 21-year prison sentence for a murder-for-hire plot. (Credit: Santa Rosa County Jail)

So while the footage from his zoo was real, Exotic says, Netflix exaggerated the conflict with Carole Baskin.

“Everything they filmed after 2018 when I got arrested was all set up,” he said. “And we have evidence that they were all paid to say what they said.”

Even after all this, though, the disgraced zookeeper says he’s willing to forgive everyone involved — including Baskin.

“I’ve never really had any hard feelings against Carole Baskin,” he said. “People have to understand that in the animal rights world, bashing each other is how people make money. Carole made money telling people that I abused my animals, and I got attention saying she killed her husband.”

While he’s forgiven them, however, Joe says he’ll never forget.

Joe Exotic says he’s ‘been through hell in the last five years.’

While in prison, Joe developed prostate cancer, and doctors are concerned it has turned into bladder cancer. He is reportedly peeing blood, but he’s ignoring it in the name of justice.

In a letter obtained by TMZ, Exotic said he prefers “to stay here and just let it take its course, while also saying “the world has to know just how corrupt our justice system is … If I have to be the one to die innocent in here fighting for the truth maybe people around the world will finally speak up for the truth for once.”

He has signed a Do-Not-Resuscitate order.

“If God gives me the will to move on, do not bring me back to this world,” he said Friday.

If he does make it out of prison, though, Joe says he has a plan. He’s moving to Arkansas, marrying his fiancé Seth Posey and possibly embarking on a concert tour.

But perhaps most remarkably, Joe Exotic is running for president as a libertarian in 2024 — even if he’s still in prison.

“I intend on making the politicians and the American people listen to what’s going on in this country,” he said. “I have some extremely major influencers that are my endorsers and online tabloids and everything else that’s backing me for this.”

And why not?

If Joe Biden can campaign from his basement, certainly Joe Exotic can campaign from prison.

Written by Amber Harding

Amber is a Midwestern transplant living in Murfreesboro, TN. She spends most of her time taking pictures of her dog, explaining why real-life situations are exactly like "this one time on South Park," and being disappointed by the Tennessee Volunteers.

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