2020 has been a long year, so it may be easy to forget that the frenzy around Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, & Madness happened in March. The Netflix series centered around “gun-toting gay redneck” Joe Exotic and his Oklahoma zoo for big cats, as well as his rivalry with fellow big cat caregiver Carole Baskin.
Joe Exotic is fighting to get out of prison
In January 2020, before Tiger King premiered, Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison for charges including a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin. Since then, he’s been fighting to get out of his sentence with the help of his “Tiger Team,” a group of representatives who have been working to get Exotic out. They’ve even tried appealing to President Donald Trump for a full pardon of their client.
The Tiger Team has tried just about everything to get Trump’s attention. They’ve written letters to the president and appeared on Fox News, his network of choice. They sued the federal government for $94 million alleging Exotic had experienced civil rights violations, false imprisonment, selective enforcement, and more. When they decided to go to Washington themselves, they rode the whole way in a tour bus with Exotic’s face on it for over 1,300 miles.
Donald Trump could pardon Joe Exotic
In April 2020, Donald Trump Jr. appeared on SiriusXM and discussed Exotic’s high-profile case.
“Now, I don’t even know exactly what he was charged with,” Trump Jr. said. “I watched the show, but it was like, I don’t know exactly what he was guilty of or wasn’t. It doesn’t seem like he was totally innocent of anything. But when they’re saying, ‘We’re putting this guy away for 30 years,’ I’m saying that seems sort of aggressive.”
The next day, his father was asked by a reporter at a press conference about Exotic’s case after Trump Jr.’s comments and whether he would consider a presidential pardon. “I’ll take a look,” Trump said.
In September 2020, Exotic himself wrote a letter to the president asking him for a pardon. “Be my hero please,” the letter read. “I am begging you to listen to the millions who see the truth… Allow me to make you proud, to make America proud, to make the world proud.”
Joe Exotic’s Tiger Team had a unique way of getting Trump’s attention
A November 2020 piece in The New York Times detailed the appeals to Trump for a pardon in the final days of his presidency.
An anonymous organizer told the newspaper that Exotic’s representatives ran up a tab of about $10,000 during a visit to the Trump International Hotel in Washington to try to get the president’s attention.
It turns out that that figure isn’t totally accurate. Mark Hayes, a Navy veteran and “Tiger Team Investigator,” clarified the details of the eye-popping bill to PinkNews and pointed out that they actually spent even more money than what was reported.
“I am one of the background investigators working for Eric Love (Fort Worth Big Juicy), and I was the co-driver for the bus trip to Washington DC,” Hayes said in a claim that was subsequently verified.
“The information you have is incorrect,” he continued. “I am a member of the Tiger Team and we spent $14,445.00 USD at the Trump hotel in Washington DC.”
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