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Joe Exotic, Donald Trump
Joe Exotic via Netflix, Donald Trump via Wikimedia Commons

Tiger King’s Joe Exotic is ‘very close’ to a presidential pardon from Trump

The former zoo owner wants Donald Trump to release him from a 22 year sentence for animal abuse and murder-for-hire

Tiger King’s Joe Exotic is reportedly “very close” to receiving a presidential pardon, which would release him from the 22-year sentence he’s currently serving for animal abuse and hiring a hitman to murder his nemesis, Carole Baskin.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump’s team said that they are vetting a number of pardon requests as the outgoing president’s administration draws to a close. Among those is that of Joseph Maldonado-Passage (aka Joe Exotic, aka the Tiger King). “We've heard from the Tiger King,” one source told ABC News, adding: “You wouldn't believe the amount of calls, some insane, we've gotten.”

The former zoo owner was jailed in September 2018, ahead of the Netflix documentary that would catapult him to fame for his messy antics and wild style (plus the fact that we had nothing else to do during lockdown). 

In the wake of his newfound popularity, Exotic’s legal team pushed for a pardon from Trump, claiming that he was wrongly convicted of murder-for-hire. Fans and supporters have also decorated a bus with the message: “President Trump, please pardon Joe Exotic.” Eventually, it got to the point that Trump himself said he’d “take a look” at the case, though he knew “nothing about it”.

Now, if Exotic’s team is to be believed, they’re “very close” to getting the pardon they want. “We are waiting on the pen to hit the paper,” one of his attorneys, Eric Love, tells ABC. “We think we are very, very close.”

Exotic has shared a message from prison via Instagram too, and appears to think he has a chance. “If President Trump grants me this miracle,“ he writes, “I can honestly say I am putting everyone connected to that zoo and that industry behind me. I am taking the higher road and will work on forgiving them.”

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the presidential pardon will actually come to fruition. Does it seem unlikely? Maybe. But it also feels like a pretty fitting end to the Joe Exotic saga by 2020 standards.