Joe Exotic fails to get a pardon from Donald Trump. He even had a limo ready and waiting
Trump issued his final list of pardons in the final hours of his presidency on Tuesday night (19 January), with 70 people, including former aide Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne, making the list.
He also commuted the sentences of an additional 70 people – but Joe Exotic’s name was nowhere to be seen on the lengthy list.
The former zoo-owner is currently serving 22-years in federal prison for his attempts to have rival Carole Baskin killed in a murder-for-hire plot. He was also convicted on eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Despite this, Exotic – real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage – was confident that Trump would pardon him after a months-long campaign that began after Tiger King took the world by storm following its Netflix debut.
His legal team – nicknamed Team Tiger – had spent months fighting for Trump’s attention in the desperate hope that the president would pardon him and have him freed from prison in the waning hours of his presidency.
Exotic’s team told reporters on Tuesday (19 January) that they were “absolutely confident” he would be pardoned. They even had a stretch limo standing by at his lawyer’s office, ready to travel to his Fort Worth prison and collect him.
Joe Exotic's legal team tell me they are "100% confident" Trump will pardon the 'Tiger King' from his 22-year criminal sentence. Here's the 38ft "Monster Ram Truck Limo" they've reserved to pick him up. They plan to grab some McRibs immediately after. pic.twitter.com/mK69eGLiBV
— Greg Walters (@thegregwalters) January 19, 2021
Private investigator Eric Love, who has led efforts to have Exotic pardoned, tweeted late on Tuesday night: “We are still waiting on the pardon.”
After Trump finally announced his list of pardons and commutations, and it became clear that Exotic had not made the cut, there was silence from Love and the rest of Exotic’s legal team.
The jokes wrote themselves after Joe Exotic was denied a pardon
Tiger King fans had been waiting with baited breath to see if Exotic would be freed from prison – and the disgraced zookeeper quickly started to trend on Twitter as it became clear that he will not be getting out of prison anytime soon.
"Trump pardons Lil Wayne, snubs Joe Exotic" is exactly the kind of headline this presidency was always going to end with huh
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) January 20, 2021
Joe exotic seeing that trump pardoned Kodak black
— Corinne (@coriin_thehouse) January 20, 2021
Joe Exotic rn pic.twitter.com/PBDcC63rQy
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) January 20, 2021
Why would Trump pardon Joe Exotic and give himself a serious challenger in the 2024 GOP primary
— Populism Updates (@PopulismUpdates) January 19, 2021
Joe Exotic realizing that the stretch limo truck he rented this morning in anticipation of a Presidential pardon charges by the hour pic.twitter.com/QlH89BgsU0
— ᴍᴀᴛᴛ ᴊᴀᴍᴇs 973 (@_Matt_James_) January 20, 2021
Carole Baskin seeing no pardon for Joe Exotic: pic.twitter.com/RKqTyj4AV2
— Corey Miller (@corey_miller5) January 20, 2021
Fans first began to question whether Exotic could end up being pardoned by Trump after the outgoing president said he would would “look into” his case during a press conference in April 2020.
Since then, Exotic’s legal team have tried every trick in the book to have the disgraced zookeeper freed from prison.
They even filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Justice for rejecting his pardon, claiming that the appeal had never landed on Trump’s desk – but they later retracted their complaint in December 2020 after learning that the appeal had indeed been forwarded to Trump.