Joe Exotic Says He Was ‘Too Gay’ to Get a Pardon From Trump

And he had words about Don Jr., too.
January 20, 2021, 10:03pm
In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, is seen at the zoo he used to run in Wynnewood, Okla.
In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, is seen at the zoo he used to run in Wynnewood, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Joe Exotic is pissed at former President Donald Trump.

The star of Netflix’s “Tiger King,” a true-crime docuseries about big cat breeding, blasted Trump for failing to pardon him on the last night of his presidency, and accused the former president of refusing to help him because Exotic is “too gay.”

“I was too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump,” Exotic tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. “Boy were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice? His corrupt friends all come first.”

Netflix’s “Tiger King” delves into Exotic’s sexuality and features scenes from his three-way wedding to two men.  

Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was convicted last year on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder-for-hire over an alleged plot to kill the owner of a rival tiger zoo named Carole Baskin, who featured prominently in the Netflix series. 


Exotic’s failure to win a pardon from Trump came as a stunning blow to the “Tiger King,” whose legal team waged an unorthodox public relations campaign to convince the president he was worth setting free from the FMC Fort Worth federal prison in Texas. In the end, Trump balked at releasing the man described in his own 257-page pardon application as a “gay, gun-toting, redneck in Oklahoma.” 

Exotic’s team was so confident he would receive a pardon that they hired a 38-foot RAM truck limousine to pick him up from the prison in style. They publicly announced plans to whisk Exotic away for a feast of McRibs and Dr. Pepper, followed by an instant makeover with a hair-stylist and makeup artist after his release. 

 Eric Love, a private investigator who’s been working with a team of lawyers that call themselves “Team Tiger,” confirmed to VICE News that the tweet on Wednesday lashing out at Trump came directly from Exotic.

“He sent the message out in an email to be posted online,” Love said, adding that Exotic’s friends handle the Twitter account for him.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Trump’s White House released a list of 143 people who received presidential clemency, including former Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne.

Hours before the list was announced, Love told VICE News he was “100% certain” Exotic was getting a pardon.  

Exotic and his legal team were left reeling Wednesday when that failed to materialize.  

In a statement to VICE News, Team Tiger wrote: “140 million Joe Exotic fans had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. We are as disappointed that the President did not sign Joe’s pardon as we were confident yesterday that he would.”

Throughout his presidency, Trump’s White House insisted that he favored LGBTQ rights, but activists have long called that stance a façade.