Joe Exotic is speaking out about his relationship with husband Dillon Passage as he continues to serve his 22-year prison sentence at a facility in Fort Worth, Texas. After Passage announced in March of this year that he and his husband were “seeking a divorce,” something he said "wasn't an easy decision to make," Exotic provided an update on the status of their relationship, revealing to Entertainment Tonight whether or not he and Passage have chosen to move forward with the divorce.
Speaking with the outlet from inside the Federal Medical Center, Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, revealed that he and his husband have opted to continue to work through their marital struggles and have decided to remain married. Exotic said he and his husband talk "three times a day on the telephone, and we love each other very much" and acknowledged the difficulties Passage has faced amid his own legal troubles, with Exotic having been arrested just months after they tied the knot in December 2017. He said Passage "has been out there alone for two and half years because the first six months he lived in a car because we lost our house," but despite having "been through hell," Exotic said his husband "has stood by my side the entire time." According to Exotic, "we were talking about a divorce a few weeks ago so he could move on and we talked about it some more and we decided to stay married."
Signs of trouble in their relationship were sparked on March 26, roughly a year after their relationship was thrown into the spotlight with the debut of Netflix's Tiger King, when Passage reflected on their relationship in an emotional Instagram post, writing in part, "I've always stood by his side and will continue to always love and support him." He reflected on the difficulties brought about by the debut of the Netflix docuseries, sharing that his "life was thrown into a world of media and public attention. Something that was completely foreign to me. I felt as if I had a microscope constantly looming over me, which was and still, is incredibly uncomfortable." Writing that he didn't "intend to post any more on this subject," he confirmed, "yes, Joe and I are seeking a divorce. This wasn't an easy decision to make, but Joe and I both understand that this situation isn't fair to either of us. It's something that neither of us were expecting, but we are going to take it day by day." At the time, he added that he and his husband were "on good terms still and I hope it can stay that way."
While they may no longer be seeking a divorce, Exotic told ET he understands and respects if Passage "needs to move on," stating that he "can't expect him to just hang on forever." He said his husband has "told me time and time again ... if I make it out of here alive, I still have a home to come to. So, he said he is not going anywhere, all right? That is all I can say because that is all I know."