Joe Exotic Talks 2024 Presidential Bid and How 'Tiger King' Ruined His Life

The 'Tiger King' star said he never wanted to do the popular Netflix series, and was filming himself as part of a separate project about tigers.

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Joe Exotic says he might become the “first presidential candidate to die in federal prison.”

The 60-year-old Tiger King star—legal name Joseph Allen Maldonado—made the comment in a recent jailhouse interview with TMZ. Joe confirmed that despite his cancer diagnosis, he had not abandoned his political aspirations. He told the outlet he has already launched his 2024 campaign, and was running for president as a Libertarian.

“I’m officially on the federal election campaign website … and I intend on making the politicians and the American people listen to what’s going on in this country,” he said. “People may think this is a joke [with] me being sick and me running for office from [prison], but it’s not. I have some extremely major influencers who are my endorsers, and online news tabloids, and everything else that’s backing me for this … I’m taking this serious. And, if I can, I’m gonna do my best to be a voice for the poor people.”

Joe is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for a murder-for-hire attempt on Carole Baskin, an animal welfare activist who was depicted as Joe’s foe in the Tiger King docuseries. About a year into his sentence, Joe announced he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Though the disease has since reportedly spread to his pelvis and bladder, Joe has allegedly refused treatment.

“I could die in here,” he said during the phone interview, before confirming he has signed a “do not resuscitate” order. “You know there’s been people in Oklahoma who spent 40 years in prison and get out and die in a car wreck the very next day. I just have the attitude that if God gives me the will to move on, please do not bring me back to this world.”

Joe went on to say that his biggest regret is owning a zoo and meeting Jeff Lowe, his former business partner who took over Joe’s exotic animal park following his arrest. The Tiger King star has accused Lowe of making false claims to the media, and setting him up for arrest. However, Joe insists he has since forgiven Lowe, Baskin, and “everybody that’s involved in this case.”

He went on to say he never agreed to do the Tiger King series, and was filming his life for a separate project in 2016 and 2017. He claimed Netflix and producers got on board and created a narrative that he had tried to kill Baskin.

“Did Tiger King ruin my life? Absolutely,” he said. “… Anything you saw me in was real filming that I filmed at the zoo. Everything they filmed after 2018, after I got arrested, was pre-setup.”

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