BY DARRAGH ROCHE ON 5/03/23 AT 7:23 AM EDT
"Tiger King" Joe Exotic has challenged President Joe Biden to debate him as he continues to mount his presidential campaign despite the fact he's currently serving a 21-year prison sentence.
Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado, released an open letter to the president, dated May 1, in which he once again criticized his conviction but also suggested he and Bien could become "allies."
Maldonado rose to fame as the star of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King and is currently running for president as a Democrat while imprisoned following his conviction in 2019 on multiple charges, including two counts of hiring hitmen to murder wildlife activist Carole Baskin, his co-star. He was also convicted of killing tigers and selling them across state lines.
In his letter to Biden, which his campaign shared with Newsweek, Maldonado repeated his criticisms of that conviction. He had previously taken aim at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) when he announced his campaign in March.
"Tiger King" Joe Exotic (R) is running for president in 2024 as a Democrat against incumbent Joe Biden. Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado, challenged Biden to a debate in an open letter.
"I know you know who I am, so there is not much need for a very long introduction. My name is Joseph Maldonado aka Joe Exotic from Tiger King," Maldonado's letter began.
"You know, the guy they nicknamed the Big Cat Safety Act after, in order to KIDNAP me just to pass and get you to sign that bill into law for nothing more than a political agenda?" he wrote.
Maldonado was referring to the act passed in December last year which restricts the private ownership of big cats such as lions and tigers. It passed the Senate unanimously.
"Thanks to the past administration and the current one, some very dangerous criminals are getting away with more and more each day," Maldonado's letter went on, saying criminals had destroyed "my entire life's work."
He reiterated his criticism of the DOJ and the FBI, writing to Biden that "YOU DO NOT want to admit that the Department of Justice screwed up and truly KIDNAPPED me only to pass this ridiculous bill that will not benefit a tiger in America or protect any in the wild."
Maldonado went on to challenge Biden to a debate but also suggested the two could work together.
"I am running against you in the 2024 race for President from Federal Prison," Maldonado wrote. "I challenge you to debate me on your failed justice and prison reform and the corruption within both systems, the climate policies, and our foreign policies; we can either be against each other or we can be allies, but what is happening to me is not right and its your duty to make it right."
In his letter, Maldonado levied strong criticisms relating to his conviction and also referenced Brittney Griner, the WNBA player who was held in Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison after less than a gram of cannabis oil was found in her luggage. Griner was later released in a prisoner swap.
"People are in federal prison for no more than Brittney Griner was detained for in Russia, crossing state lines with CBD and THC products, yet their lives mean nothing to you or this government, and her life meant so much more than ours that you traded a dangerous arms dealer for her, but we cannot even get in court in under 5-10 years," he wrote, returning to discussing his own case.
In concluding his letter, Maldonado wrote: "All I want is the truth, my freedom, and the same treatment for everyone stuck in this system as you all get when you have to face the court. There are two systems--one for the rich and one for the poor. and its only fair that we get one system back in place."
Newsweek reached out to the Biden and Maldonado campaigns for comment.