As she competes for the Mirrorball Trophy, Carole Baskin is facing another battle off the stage. According to court documents, the Tiger King subject is being sued for defamation by her missing ex-husband Don Lewis' family connected to jokes made on Dancing With the Stars Season 29.
In a lawsuit filed by Lewis' three daughters – Gale, Lynda, and Donna – and his former executive assistant, Anne McQueen, and obtained by Entertainment Tonight, Lewis' family accused the Big Cat Rescue CEO of being "complicit with jokes" about her former husband's death during the DWTS Season 29 premiere as well as in her Good Morning America interview earlier this month. During the season premiere, judge Bruno Tonioli referenced the viral TikTok dance inspired by Baskin's Tiger King storyline, which accused her of "feeding him [Lewis] to the tigers," when he called Baskin's paso doble "sedated" and joked that she did not "kill" it. Lewis' family states that Baskin failed to condemn or correct these comments. The lawsuit also points to remarks she made during her GMA interview, during which she joked that she'd "Really kill it next week" on DWTS.
The lawsuit also claims that Baskin has been sharing video and blog entries, which she claims are from the past, providing new information about her relationship with Lewis, who went missing in 1997 and was legally declared dead in 2002. Lewis' family attorney, John Phillips, alleges that the family filed a lawsuit or defamation and various breaches, as Baskin settled a libel and slander case from McQueen in 1998 for $50,000. In a statement, he claimed that "these exact same false statements, and additional ones, are being made again in 2020," calling them "malicious." Lewis said that both Baskin and her current husband, Howard Baskin, have been named as defendants in the suit, as Howard "is making these same statements publicly, as is Big Cat Rescue."
At this time, Baskin has not responded to the lawsuit. Entertainment Tonight and various other outlets have reached out for comment but have not yet heard back.
The lawsuit comes just a week after Lewis' family made a public plea for answers regarding Lewis' disappearance. Airing a 30-second ad during the DWTS season premiere, they offered a $100,000 reward for information, with Lewis asking in the TV spot, "Do you know who did this or if Carole Baskin was involved?" Baskin, however, has long denied any involvement in her husband's disappearance and said shortly after the ad aired that it would be a "side benefit" to being on DWTS if Lewis' case was solved.