In March 2020, Netflix released a docuseries that took the world by storm, introducing us to the eccentric world of big cat enthusiasts and a charismatic figure named Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, quickly became a household name due to his larger-than-life personality, unique fashion sense, and his obsession with his arch-nemesis, Carole Baskins.
For two decades, Joe Exotic owned and operated the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, a zoo that captivated audiences as he and his animals toured the country. However, it was his ongoing feud with Carole Baskins, owner of Big Cat Rescue in Florida, that truly fueled the flames of the infamous “Tiger King” saga.
Joe Exotic’s vendetta against Baskins took many forms – from threatening her on his web show to mailing her venomous snakes and even writing a country song accusing her of killing her first husband and feeding him to tigers. The tension between the two reached a chilling climax when Joe Exotic attempted to hire a hitman to end Baskins’ life, an ill-fated plan that was foiled when the supposed assassin turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
In 2018, Joe Exotic was arrested for his murder-for-hire plot, marking a significant turning point in his turbulent life. Now, the burning question remains: Where is Joe Exotic today? Joe Exotic is serving a 21-year federal prison sentence.
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Initially, he had been sentenced to 22 years, but a federal judge reduced his term by one year. He was held at Federal Medical Center, Butner in North Carolina but later transferred back to FMC Fort Worth. His scheduled release date is 2035, a date that seems distant and uncertain.
Apart from his legal troubles, Joe Exotic’s personal life has also seen its share of turmoil. He is no longer with his fifth husband, Dillon Passage, who filed for divorce in 2022 after a four-year relationship.
But Joe Exotic is not one to fade quietly into the background. In a twist that many may find surreal, he announced his bid for the 2024 presidential election. Running as a libertarian, his campaign platform includes slogans like “Live how you want” and a promise to “Free America from the controlling left and right.”
While he may have some enthusiastic supporters, the Libertarian Party chair, Angela McArdle, criticized his campaign, making it clear that the party stands for personal and economic freedom and is not a platform for former reality stars and D-list celebrities.
Joe Exotic also taunted former President Donald Trump on Twitter. This act came in response to the revelation that Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, testified before a grand jury investigating Trump’s attempts to stay in office despite losing the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents. According to a book by Brian Morgenstern and Teresa Morgenstern, Meadows may have thwarted Trump’s potential pardon for Joe Exotic.
In a cheeky tweet, Joe Exotic wrote, “I will save you a bunk and a bed roll,” indicating that he has not forgotten the past.
The saga of Joe Exotic, the ‘Tiger King,’ continues to be a rollercoaster ride filled with intrigue, controversy, and unexpected turns. As for his future, only time will tell what lies ahead for this unforgettable character in the annals of pop culture.