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Joe Exotic’ says he’s running for President as a Democrat

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Kaylee Douglas/KFOR


Editor’s Note: We have corrected Joe Exotic’s party affiliation when he ran in the 2016 election. We regret the error.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The famed ‘Tiger King’ says he’ll be running for President in 2024 as a Democrat.

Joseph Maldonado, who is also known as Joe Exotic, announced his presidential bid in March.

News 4 spoke with Maldonado over the phone Thursday morning about how he plans to run the country if elected into office.

“First of all, as soon as I’m sworn in, I have the right to pardon myself,” he said.

Although he is serving time in federal prison, he says he isn’t going to let that stop him from running for the nation’s top office.

This is not the first time Joe Exotic has run for the nation’s highest office. He ran in 2016 as an independent. He also ran for Oklahoma Governor as a Libertarian in 2018.

“Now I know how broken the system really is and how corrupt the system really is. And I’ve got, you know, a year and a half of when I ran in 2016 under my belt, and then a year and a half, two years of running for Governor under my belt, so I’m a little more prepared. I know a little bit more about the political game this time,” he said.

Now, Maldonado says he’s filing his 2024 presidential campaign with the Democratic Party.

“I’m joining the Democrats to fight like hell for every child in America. Their future won’t be destroyed by endless laws and the shadow of violence,” wrote Joe Exotic on Twitter. “It’s time for a g****** revolution, and I’m leading the charge!”

His campaign is advocating for ‘responsible gun regulation’, reproductive rights, mental health and criminal justice reform.

“President Biden is the one who declared war on drugs in 1994. Now there are 30,000 people incarcerated for non-violent drug charges and ghost dope. It’s time to end this. When we can’t keep drugs out of a 5-acre fenced in Federal prison, how are we supposed to stop them at the border?,” questioned Maldonado.

He would also work to keep federal dollars from going to other countries.

“Unrelenting in his quest for accountability, Joe Exotic seeks to expose deep-rooted corruption within the Department of Justice and fiercely advocate for innocent Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in federal penitentiaries,” his campaign said.

Since announcing his switch to Democrat, Maldonado said he has received hundreds of thousands of engagements on social media.

“I would say I’ve got a hell of a chance,” Maldonado explained. “I will stick up for you. I will be your voice. I just need you to help me be heard.”

He said what sets him a part from the other candidates so far is his upbringing and his current imprisonment which gives him a “different perspective.”

Legally, a convicted felon can run for President.

Maldonado isn’t the first convicted felon to try either.

In 1920, imprisoned activist, Eugene V. Debs ran for President, but lost.

Joe Exotic is currently serving a 21-year federal sentence after being convicted on multiple charges, including violations of the Endangered Species Act and a murder-for-hire plot against wildlife park rival, Carole Baskin.

“My entire life has been destroyed so Netflix could make millions off of the hit show,” stated Maldonado.

He said he filed a motion for a new trial almost a year ago, but it has yet to be reviewed.

Maldonado said he is now working with his team of attorneys to file a new motion next week, also adding there is new evidence being collected that proves his innocence.

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