The stretch limo was booked and the hair and makeup teams were on standby, but it was all for nothing. Despite a very public campaign, Tiger King star Joe Exotic has failed in his bid to receive a presidential pardon.
Exotic – aka 57-year-old Joseph Maldonado-Passage – shot to international fame in early 2020 when Netflix aired an incredible documentary about his big cat park and feud with animal rights activist Carole Baskin. His hatred of her escalated into a vicious vendetta that eventually saw Exotic convicted of murder-for-hire and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Once behind bars, he immediately began petitioning Donald Trump for his release. His efforts have included handwritten letters referencing the president’s own legal battles, with Exotic saying: “I see what they do to you, and I can’t believe it.” On top of that, his legal team and supporters have been campaigning on Twitter and went so far as to erect a “Pardon Joe Exotic” billboard in Florida, hoping Trump might see it on a visit to Mar-a-Lago. In September, Exotic’s attorney’s also submitted a 257-page application for a pardon, which said:
“He humbly requests a pardon to correct the injustices he has experienced and to have the opportunity to return to providing meaningful contributions to his community.”
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Back in the spring, Trump had said that he’d “take a look” at the case, and while whether he did or not remains unknown, Exotic was reportedly certain that January 19th, 2021 would be his final day behind bars. His legal team even had plans for a dinner party, with private investigator Eric Love saying:
“We’re confident enough we already have a limousine parked about half a mile from the prison. We are really in action mode right now. I’ve got make-up, wardrobe, the whole unit that will come up. The first thing Joe wants to do, he wants his hair done. He hasn’t had his hair done in two-and-a-half years. That’s the first order of business. Then we’ll probably go and get some pizzas, steak, maybe a McRib.”
Sadly for him, though, that McRib is going to have to wait until he finishes serving his sentence in 2042. While I don’t have a huge amount of love for the murderous, animal-abusing Joe Exotic, I do feel a little bit sorry for him right now. He seemed 100% sure he’d be a free man today and the disappointment of realizing he may well die behind bars is likely to crush him. Even so, I doubt the Tiger King story is over yet.