Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness fans are reacting after new hope was sparked for series star Joe Exotic after President Donald Trump commented on the possibility of pardoning him. Exotic had been handed a 22-year jail sentence in January after being convicted for his murder-for-hire plot targeting Carole Baskin. He was also found guilty for violating the Endangered Species Act and falsifying wildlife records.
On Wednesday, after his son, Donald Trump Jr., jokingly suggested that he would lobby his father's support to pardon Exotic, the president weighed in on the matter during his daily coronavirus briefing. Asked by a reporter if he was considering freeing the former exotic animal handler, Trump said he'll "take a look" at a request for a pardon. The president, however, admitted that he "know[s] nothing about" Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage.
The topic of pardoning Exotic was prompted after he wrote a letter pleading for the president's intervention.
"Mr. President, I am asking for a special investigation or a Presidential Pardon from the Conviction I have Just received," the letter, obtained by News9, reads in part. "Here in America we use to take the swearing of Oath seriously to tell the truth. These days it means nothing to anyone, not even the Department of Justice or the U.S Attorney’s Office. My trial was not about the truth, it was about the win for the prosecutors. Why do I say this? Because I can prove every lie and the U.S Attorney's Office had that proof to serve real justice and they ignored using the evidence both sides had to present to the jury."
While it remains unclear if Exotic will be walking free anytime soon – he recently suffered multiple legal setbacks in his attempts to overturn his conviction – the possibility of a presidential pardon sparked a spirited response online. Keep scrolling to see how fans of the Netflix docuseries are reacting to the latest development in Exotic's case.
"I can't wait for the presidential debates," joked one person. "We can listen to [Donald Trump] and [Joe Biden] present their political reasons why Joe Exotic should or should not be pardoned... as if this year could get any more bizarre."
"SO FUNNY," commented another. "A reporter asked President Trump about Tiger King & if he would Pardon Joe Exotic!! I believe Carole Baskin set him up because he has the world talking about how she fed her husband to a Tiger."
Pardon Joe Exotic
It's what the American public wants!
Fkin Carol Baskins did it! #pardonjoeexotic— Domie109 [LTC] (@Domie109) April 9, 2020
Trump's promise to "take a look" has even given way to a surge in new Change.org petitions to have Exotic released early. One such petition, titled "Convincing Donald Trump to Pardon Joe Exotic," has surpassed 2,800 signatures. It has a goal of 5,000.
"That B**ch Carole Baskin can't win," the petition reads, referencing Exotic’' long-time enemy and the target of his murder-for-hire plot. "Fans of The Tiger King the time is now to uncage Joe Exotic and we have a president wild enough to Pardon him!!!"
"The reporter asking President Trump about Tiger King and a possible pardon for Joe Exotic is exactly the kind of quarantine content we need," joked one person.
"Carol Baskin is sing bricks rn," added another person. "She's out advocating hard for Biden rn, writing 3 letters to the [White House] talking about please dear god no Trump I will vote for you if you don't [pardon Joe Exotic]."
A second petition titled "Pardon Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage (Exotic Joe)," has nearly reached its 100 signature goal. The petition creator writes that they "simply ask that President Donald J. Trump pardon" Exotic, explaining that he has provided "this great nation of ours, in our most dire time of need, a relief from the daily stresses of the Carona Virus pandemic threatening this amazing nation of ours, and the world, with his simple, all though different, way of life."
It adds that "we beseech the one man in the nation who can free Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage from his cage and allow him to return to a simple life in Oklahoma."
"OMG. NO FREAKIN WAY!" reacted somebody else. "Best question in a coronavirus presser so far! The female reporter behind him is equally as funny."
"20+ years for threatening to off a woman who killed her husband is excessive. Many actual murderers got less. Joe was pushed to the edge by that lunatic Carole. Survival mode kicked in," tweeted another person. "[Pardon Joe Exotic]. Give him probation & a promise to never run for public office is enough!"
With nearly 43,000 signatures, a third petition, titled "Donald Trump: free the Tiger King," in a letter directed at the president, writes that "we the people are writing you today, to consider the fate of a fellow patriot. A man, who through nothing but collusion and dirty tricks, has been thrown into a cage against his will. A man, who brought joy to communities, hope to the downtrodden, and good will towards all the beautiful creatures of this Earth."
"Mr. Trump, we know you are incredibly busy. With the weight of the world on your shoulders. But, due to the severe nature of the injustice bestowed upon Joe, we must ask for your assistance," it adds in part. "Joe Exotic must be pardoned, his case re-examined, and justice must be served to those who look to exploit Joe's good nature for personal gain."
"That was the most exciting part of a press conference in the past two weeks," tweeted one person. "Then some jerk had to ask a question about the coronavirus. Through that as it will be out. I want happy Trump to talk more about pardoning tiger king."
"[Pardon Joe Exotic]," wrote another. "Donald, this is something you can do for all your fellow Americans; pardon this man, pardon Joe Exotic."