It's looking like Tiger King star Joe Exotic isn't leaving federal prison anytime soon after failing to get a presidential pardon from Donald Trump. Joe, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, and his legal team have been trying for months to get Trump to take a look at his case with the hopes of getting freed. Shortly before Trump's exit from the Oval Office, the 45th president released a full list of 143 names of people granted pardons or reduced sentences, and unfortunately for Joe, the former tiger breeder was not included.
This has to be a big blow for Joe and his lawyers, as they seemed to have high expectations that he would be released. In fact, the Tiger King personality had a stretch limo waiting on standby to pick him up with plans for a beauty squad to give him a post-prison makeover. Perhaps he felt that he had a shot of getting out based on brief comments made by Trump when asked about the possibility of pardoning Joe, with the president remarking, "I'll look into it."
Mr. Exotic was also aware of how fellow reality television star Kim Kardashian West worked directly with Trump to convince him to pardon other prisoners. Failing to make much traction by pleading with Trump directly, Joe Exotic corresponded with Kim to further plead his case in an emotional letter.
"I know you have never met me and may never want to however I do believe that you hold the values of our justice system dear to your heart," Joe's letter reads. "I am writing you this letter not as Joe Exotic but as the person Joseph Maldonado-Passage, asking you to please help me by just taking 10 minutes out of your life and placing a call to President Trump to look at my 257 page pardon it's all the evidence I'm innocent and ask him to sign my pardon so I can return home to [my husband] Dillon [Passage] and my father."
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness was an instant hit on Netflix when it premiered last year. The bizarre docuseries delves into the world of big cat breeding in the United States, focusing particularly on JJoe Exotic and his rival, Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin. The immense success of the series turned both Joe and Baskin into international celebrities, but as Joe is the only one locked up, only Carole has really been able to enjoy her newfound fame, which even led to competing on Dancing with the Stars.
Before Tiger King debuted, Joe was arrested for allegedly plotting to have a hitman murder Baskin along with 17 federal charges of animal abuse. In 2019, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison and now resides at FMC Fort Worth. Without a presidential pardon, the earliest he'll be able to get out is 2034 when he first goes up for parole. There's no word yet on if he'll start another campaign for a pardon now that a new president is coming in. You can check out the full list of people pardoned by Trump at the official website for the White House.