'Tiger King' star Joe Exotic says he was 'too gay' for Trump pardon: 'His corrupt friends all come first'

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read

Tiger King’s Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, was among the notable names who failed to get a pardon from Donald Trump before the former president left office. According to the reality star, that’s because he’s “too innocent and too GAY.”

Exotic, who is serving a 22-year sentence for violating federal wildlife laws and a failed murder-for-hire plot against nemesis Carole Baskin, released a statement on Wednesday, hours after he expected to be granted clemency. The Netflix sensation called out Trump’s “corrupt friends,” plus his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage was not pardoned by former president Donald Trump. (Photo: Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Joseph Maldonado-Passage was not pardoned by former president Donald Trump. (Photo: Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection)

“I was too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump. I only mattered to Don Jr. when he needed to make a comment about me to boost his social media post,” a message on Exotic’s social media accounts reads. “Boy were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice? His corrupt friends all come first.”

Last April, Trump Jr. revealed he discussed a potential pardon for Exotic with his father.

“He was fascinated," Trump Jr. recalled. “I think Melania may have shown him one of the memes that I had posted. It was like Donald Trump’s face with a Tiger King mullet, which was pretty epic.”

Lawyers for the former zoo operator were so confident Exotic would be on Trump’s list that they hired a limo to pick him up from prison in Texas. But the call never came. Instead, there were 143 other recipients, including Lil Wayne, Kodak Black and Steve Bannon, who made the cut.

Eric Love, a member of Exotic’s defense team, expressed disappointment on Wednesday.

“140 million Joe Exotic fans had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. We are as disappointed that [Trump] did not sign Joe’s Pardon, as we were confident yesterday that he would,” Love wrote, “It is only because of you 140 million fans that Joe’s Pardon was even a possibility.”

Exotic has maintained his innocence since his 2019 conviction.

“Since his trial, the evidence has made it clear that Joe is not guilty but, rather, he is a victim of the persons he trusted most,” Love’s statement continued. “Team Tiger, just this morning spent two hours on the telephone with Joe and listened to his Direct Appeal Oral Arguments by Brandon Sample in Colorado. We will not stop, we will not rest until Joe’s injustice is corrected.”

Meanwhile, Baskin told Buzzfeed News she’s thrilled Exotic didn’t get a pardon.

“I think only Joe’s team and the media were ever even thinking about a pardon for Joe,” the Dancing With the Stars alum said.

“There is no benefit, other than a feeble attempt to deflect attention, for anyone to pardon someone who walked up to five tigers and shot them in the head in order to clear cage space for the circus, who was going to pay him to board their tigers during the offseason,” she added. “Tigers are the world’s favorite animal and Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado Passage is right where he belongs: in a cage.”

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