Tiger King star Joe Exotic did not get a presidential pardon from Donald Trump, despite months of lobbying, and TMZ reported that he was "disappointed" on Wednesday. Trump signed dozens of pardons on Wednesday morning before leaving the White House, but Joseph "Exotic" Maldonado-Passage was not among them.
"We are as disappointed that the President did not sign Joe's pardon, as we were confident yesterday that he would," Exotic's legal team told reporters on Wednesday. That team is led by private investigator Eric Love, who has been seeking public support for Exotic's pardon plea on social media. Exotic is one year into his 22-year prison sentence for soliciting the murder of his business rival, Carole Baskin. Trump had previously said he would "take a look" at Exotic's case, and considering that he signed over 100 pardons just before leaving office, chances seemed good.
Exotic's team took that sliver of hope to heart, going so far as to hire an extravagant stretch limo to pick him up from prison. The souped-up truck drove away without him, but the legal team said that they "will never leave Joe's side and will continue to work until his freedom is gained."
Exotic gained nationwide fame early in 2020 for his starring role in the Netflix original series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness — a docu-series about the world of big cat zoos in the U.S. and Exotic's role in the industry. The series culminated in Exotic's criminal trial, where he was accused of hiring a zoo employee to travel across the country and murder Baskin, an animal rights activist.
As odd as the case is, it was not unreasonable for Exotic to hope for a pardon considering some of the other pardons Trump signed on Wednesday. They range from politicians to business executives to entertainers.
Predictably, Trump pardoned allies and former advisers like Steve Bannon, who pleaded guilty to charges of defrauding donors to an initiative called "We Build the Wall," according to a report by CNN. He also pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former fundraiser for the Trump campaign who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy after he was caught lobbying on behalf of a foreign billionaire with the president.
At the same time, Trump pardoned Rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge in Miami, Florida, and rapper Kodak Black, who pleaded guilty to another firearms charge. Trump is now on his way to his private residence in Florida, where he himself will await a Senate trial in his second impeachment. President Joe Biden was sworn in on Wednesday afternoon.