Carole Baskin is hoping for more than just nabbing the Mirrorball Trophy as she competes on Dancing With the Stars Season 29. After the family of her missing ex-husband, Don Lewis, aired an ad during Monday night's premiere requesting that anyone who may have information to come forward, the Tiger King subject expressed hope that the commercial would lead to answers in Lewis' more than two-decade-long disappearance.
TMZ caught up with Baskin as she left DWTS rehearsals Wednesday night, picking her brain for her thoughts on the 30-second ad, which asked, among other things, if Baskin may have been involved in Lewis' disappearance. Although Baskin did not go into much detail, she said that it would be “wonderful” if the mystery surrounding her former husband’s disappearance was finally solved. She said that getting answers all of these years later would be "a side benefit" to her time on the ABC dancing competition.
Lewis was last seen alive on August 18, 1997, with Baskin the last person to see him. His van was found abandoned at a nearby airport days later with his keys and briefcase inside, and there was no sign of a struggle. Five years later, in 2002, he was legally declared dead. His disappearance has remained a mystery, with some believing that Baskin is responsible and that Lewis is dead. His disappearance even featured heavily in an episode of Netflix's Tiger King.
During the Monday night ad, Lewis' three daughters, his former assistant Anne McQueen, and family attorney John Phillips issued a desperate plea for answers. Phillips said, "Don Lewis mysteriously disappeared in 1997. His family deserves answers. They deserve justice," and asked, "Do you know who did this or if Carole Baskin was involved?" The family also revealed a $100,00 reward for information in connection to Lewis' disappearance and encouraged anyone with information to call their tip line.
The ad has reportedly led to an influx of calls in relation to the case. Phillips and law enforcement sources told TMZ that since the commercial aired, they have received a number of calls to the tip line, though there has been "nothing solid yet."
CBS News reports that prior to the commercial's broadcast on Monday, Phillips also announced during a news conference an independent investigation into Lewis' disappearance. He explained that he has filed a lawsuit against Baskin on the family’s behalf in an attempt to depose her and get her to speak on the record.