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Tiger King ’s Joe Exotic Warns He’s “Not Holding Back” in Tell-All Memoir

Beth Sobol
·4 min read
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The Tiger King is ready to roar.

Joe Exotic, who rose to fame as the subject of Netflix's shocking 2020 documentary Tiger King, is preparing to tell his side of the story.

The former zoo owner has been typing up his explosive memoir while serving out a 22-year prison sentence. Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, will publish TIGER KING: The Official Tell-All Memoir on Nov. 9, 2021.

E! News can exclusively reveal the cover of Exotic's book, which touches on his transition "from Midwestern farmer to infamous Tiger King, and finally, to federal inmate," according to a press release from the publisher. "Joe pulls back the curtain on the man behind the headlines. From a tragic childhood riddled with abuse to his dangerous feuds with big cat rivals and beyond, nothing is off the table."

Exotic, 57, exclusively tells E! News, "It's going to be a truth-tell book. I'm not holding back anything. Everybody that's ever done anything good, it's going to be in there and anybody that's got bones in your closet, you better look out."

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He managed to write the memoir from behind bars, as he serves time for attempting to hire a hitman to murder his longtime rival, animal rights activist Carole Baskin, who also appeared onscreen. Exotic (whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage) was additionally found guilty of violating the Endangered Species Act after killing five tigers at his Oklahoma-based wildlife park.

Joe Exotic, Tiger King memoir, book cover
Joe Exotic, Tiger King memoir, book cover

The animal enthusiast says he is allowed to get on the computer every 30 minutes for 30 minutes at a time, explaining, "I can type for 30 minutes. I spend approximately three hours a day altogether, typing this book over email and sending it through."

Though he says he has not yet seen the Netflix show, Exotic claims it "has not come close to telling my life or even the truth about why I'm in here."

Based on fan letters he's received, Exotic feels that the "big part" that the series has "gotten wrong" is that "they think I lost my way."

"[Viewers think] it was all about fame and it was all about money and that's the furthest from the truth," he says. "The only reason I even got into doing the television show at the park, and into doing all the crazy s--t I did, was to try to keep my staff and my animals safe."

He continues, "So I had to act like a crazy bastard to keep people out of the zoo. I'm going to explain all of that."

The TV show Tiger King became one of Netflix's most-watched titles of the year and was nominated for six primetime Emmys. For Baskin, the series even resulted in a stint on Dancing With the Stars.

EComm: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Tiger King
EComm: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Tiger King

The colorful documentary inspired multiple scripted shows based on Baskin and Exotic's big cat feud. Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios cast Nicolas Cage as the Tiger King in a forthcoming series, while Kate McKinnon will star as Baskin in a separate limited series airing on NBC, Peacock, and USA.

After his story became popular on the streaming site, Exotic now wants a chance to tell people who he really is, in his own words.

"I'm a guy that's in prison who's been in isolation for over two years because of Netflix. And because of who I am and because they wouldn't let me around anyone," he adds. "It truly is hell. I pray every night, this is no lie, to die in my sleep. COVID right now would be a blessing."

The former Greater Wynnewood Zoo operator reveals he isn't allowed to have visitors and, therefore, hasn't seen anyone in two and a half years.

Joe Exotic, Dillon Passage
Joe Exotic, Dillon Passage

However, he talks to his husband, Dillon Passage, three times a day on the phone. The bartender, who is Exotic's fourth husband, told E! News last April that prison was really "taking a toll" on Exotic. "I am loyal to Joe and I am sticking by his side," Passage said at the time.

Exotic is still hoping President Joe Biden will issue a presidential pardon for his crimes.

In the meantime, the TV personality still thinks about his big cats back home, telling E! News, "I sit and look at the pictures every day. I miss the connection that I had with my cats. Anybody that watches my YouTube channel can see I love my cats and my cats love me back."

Pre-order his book here.

E! News has reached out to Netflix for comment.