Joe Exotic Sends Message to Donald Trump

Tiger King star Joe Exotic has sent a message to former President Donald Trump via social media as he continues his public appeal to be released from prison.

Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado, gained global recognition following his appearance in the 2020 Netflix documentary Tiger King. His rise to fame coincided with his conviction on two counts related to a murder-for-hire plot against his Tiger King co-star, the wildlife activist Carole Baskin.

The TV personality was also convicted on charges related to his involvement in the illegal trade of tiger cubs and the killing of five tigers. He received a 22-year prison sentence on January 22, 2020. Exotic has maintained that he was “wrongfully convicted.”

Following his sentencing, Exotic made several appeals to Trump to pardon him as the Republican’s presidential term came to an end. He has since asked Democratic President Joe Biden to do the same, but he remains behind bars.

On May 13, Exotic posted a photo of Trump on X, formerly Twitter, and called out the former president for not answering his repeated requests. Referencing the growing list of former associates who have turned against Trump amid the former president’s plethora of legal issues, he wrote, “Just about everyone you helped has turned on you and the only one who supported you (Me), you left in prison.”

In a separate message, Exotic shared a screenshot of an X post from Vice President Kamala Harris that was published on the platform on April 1, 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Social distancing is important, not emotional distancing,” Harris wrote. “Call your loved ones, talk to your single friends, or catch up on the Tiger King. (And yes, I’m a cosponsor of the Big Cat Public Safety Act!)”

In his post, Exotic asked: “Does this prove to the world that I am a political prisoner of @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris for the Big Cat Safety Act? Is this why Biden will not help me?”

Turning his attention to Trump, Exotic added: “Hey @realDonaldTrump will you publicly weigh in on this? VP Harris, how much did Carole Baskin pay you?”

Newsweek has contacted representatives of Trump, Biden, Harris and Exotic for comment via email.

Signed into law in December 2022, the Big Cat Public Safety Act makes it illegal to privately possess or breed big cats to keep as exotic pets or for commercial purposes. The law prohibits public contact with these animals, including cubs.

The legislation also places new restrictions on the breeding, possession and use of certain big cat species, including for commerce, within the United States.

Joe Exotic, left, in a booking photo provided by the Santa Rosa County Jail in Milton, Florida. Former President Donald Trump, right, in New York on May 14. The “Tiger King” star has directed a…

SANTA ROSA COUNTY JAIL;/Curtis Means – Pool/Getty Images

Despite his lengthy prison sentence, Exotic announced in 2023 that he would be running for president in the 2024 cycle. There are no laws to prevent someone in prison from mounting a campaign. Trump, who faces possible jail time if convicted, is expected to face off against Biden at the polls this November. The former president has denied any wrongdoing.

Earlier this month, Raw Story reported that Exotic, who last year switched from the Libertarian Party to run as a Democrat, had filed a termination report with the Federal Election Commission to end his campaign. Per the filing, Exotic’s campaign had $1,400 remaining in available funding after raising more than $16,000.

Exotic became an outspoken critic of Trump after failing to secure a pardon. In April 2023, he complained that he had been “screwed” over by Trump and said the former Apprentice star’s administration had jailed him as part of “an agenda to stop you from owning a tiger and petting a baby tiger.”