One of Tiger King star Joe Exotic's exes is speaking out. John Finlay, who viewers will remember from his three-way wedding to Exotic and Travis Maldonado while wearing matching bright pink shirts, is claiming that his marriage to Exotic was "fake" and all a part of a scheme to get a reality television show. The 37-year-old Finlay recently opened up to The Sun, explaining that he regrets his tattoo tributes to Exotic and how he recently got married to a woman named Stormey.
"My wedding was the happiest day of my life," Finlay said. "It kept being delayed because of the pandemic, so in the end we said ‘screw it’ and went to the courthouse. I didn’t want cameras there because it was only for us. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. I had no idea what it is like to marry your rock, your soulmate, the person you spend every minute of the day with. Stormey completes me and we are deeply in love."
Finlay continued, explaining how different this wedding was from when he and Exotic exchanged vows in 2014. "My fake wedding didn’t feel right at all. This is a totally different feeling," he said. "The fake one was basically a publicity stunt so Joe could get his own reality TV series. This one was the real thing. I didn’t wear a suit, the only time I’ll do that will be for my funeral. But I wasn’t in a pink shirt either. I wore a button-up black Western shirt, jeans and my rattlesnake boots."
Finlay explained that while he was a meth user while he was with Exotic, he is now sober and working as a welder in Oklahoma. However, he isn't without his scars after his time with Exotic, both literal and psychological. While he was able to cover up the tattoo above his groin that previously read "Privately Owned By Joe Exotic" with a bull's head, he still has four tattoos featuring Joe's name that he hopes to remove. "My only short-term goal is to get all my tattoos covered up, which I’m in the process of doing," Finlay said. "It helps get rid of old memories and I will feel a lot freer when they are gone. Before I had the main one covered up I didn’t really have a sex life at all. Then I got it covered and it was a whole different story. It’s bad when you’ve got someone’s name tattooed down there right next to your private area."
Finlay revealed that he met Stormey in 2019 on a dating app and that he was very upfront with her about his past. "I told her everything because she was that important to me. I was nervous because most people would run away screaming," Finlay said. "But she stuck with me, and that showed she is The One."
Finlay spoke a little bit about his time working for Exotic, saying that he joined the crew at the zoo when he was 19 and "dumb." He also claims that he never noticed any animal abuse while he was working there. "I don’t think I was vulnerable, as I came from a loving home," Finlay said. "But it was the type of situation where you’re impressionable and you don’t know any better. Over here, we use the expression, 'You try anything once.' A lot of people think I was taken advantage of but that wasn’t the case. I didn’t know any better and I thought it was what I wanted at the time. Joe did groom others but I wouldn’t say he groomed me."
Finlay revealed that Exotic, who is currently in prison serving a 22-year sentence, hasn't tried to contact him since their split. Ultimately, Finlay is "way happier now and much healthier" now that he's moved on. "I’m not one to focus on the negative," he said. "I prefer to focus on the positive and what’s better for me and the family and to try to help others."