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What to you have to lose?’: Joe Exotic of ‘Tiger King’ says presidential run gaining steam

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

You might remember Joseph Maldonado-Passage as the eponymous “Tiger King” from Netflix’s show or as a felon convicted of hiring hitmen to kill a rival in the world of big cats, but if he’s right, those items would only be footnotes in the history of the 47th president of the United States.

“Joe Exotic has raised the funds needed to get on the ticket in New Hampshire,” his campaign announced on Tuesday. “Running from prison at the Fort Worth Medical Center in Texas, Joe Exotic is making history with his grassroots 2024 Presidential campaign.”

Exotic, 60, was convicted in 2019 of animal abuse charges and hiring a hitman to kill Carole Baskin, a woman who ran Big Cat Rescue and frequently butted heads and traded allegations with Exotic. Earlier this year, it was announced that the animal sanctuary would close.

‘Joe Exotic’ says he’s running for president as a Democrat.

His 22-year sentence was handed down in January 2020, just a couple of months before “Tiger King” blew up on Netflix at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While in federal custody, Exotic has mounted a longshot presidential campaign using the slogan “What do you have to lose?”

Exotic has attempted to gain his freedom, but his bid for a pardon from then-President Donald Trump was unsuccessful, even though his attorneys had readied a limousine in celebration.

In the meantime, he has continued to proclaim his innocence, including on the landing page on his campaign website.

Despite his claims, Colorado says Joe Exotic isn’t on state’s presidential ballot

“The only thing I did was put five very old, crippled tigers to sleep in the most humane way possible and it was approved by my USDA Inspector, so it’s time to get over it,” Exotic wrote. “PETA kills thousands of animals a year. Carole has killed over 226 big cats and most of you eat some kind of animal everyday, so it’s time to move past this issue.”

This isn’t Exotic’s first turn in politics. In 2018, he ran for Oklahoma governor as a Libertarian. In pursuing the presidency, he’s running as a Democrat.

His campaign says Exotic’s next target in his race for president will be Louisiana.

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