Will Joe Exotic’s charm infiltrate the White House?

With a celebrity as the leader of the free world, it should come as no surprise that the presidential press briefings have an element of entertainment to them. The upside to this deviation of the norm is that any time the president comes on the screen, he tends to draw in viewers who aren’t the most politically inclined. With the spread of the coronavirus, entertainment value has not been lost on the media and reporters—especially when it comes to the topic of the now notorious Tiger King. 

In a room dotted with socially distancing reporters, one trending reporter asked the president a question so many Tiger King enthusiasts were thinking: “Will you pardon Joe Exotic?” 

Check out the video here that captures the moment reporters and officials alike found a glimmer of hope during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The unexpected question was met with befuddled looks from reporters, and President Trump mimicked their reactions. Trump’s initial response was one of confusion and questioning as it did not seem that he understood the question at first. He went on to admit that he hadn't actually watched the show and then seemingly poked fun at his son, Don Jr., by stating that it was Don who propelled this theory of the Tiger King being pardoned. 

The Netflix Documentary That Changed Everything

There is absolutely no question that this documentary has magnified the spotlight on all who came across the Tiger King. In fact, if you talk to anyone who has seen the show, they will likely waste no time sharing their conviction that Carole Baskin truly did kill her husband. From Facebook memes to Tik Toks, it’s not a matter of if, but how Carole did it.

But could a pardon for this now-infamous zookeeper actually become a reality? Well, it turns out there are more pieces to this moving puzzle then you may think. Let's take a look at the fate of Mr. Joe Exotic.

Who Is Joe Exotic?

Tiger king
Courtesy of People Magazine

Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage is currently serving 22 years in federal prison on charges that he tried to get his arch-nemesis, Carole Baskin, murdered. His rise to notoriety is fueled by the now-popular Netflix documentary that is rumored to have an additional episode coming out sometime in the near future. His humble beginnings gave rise to his Tiger King empire thanks to his hard work, tenacity, and mostly unethical dealings in both his personal and professional life. 

Throughout the show, the narrative leads viewers to believe that while Joe Exotic is certainly a shady character, he has unfortunately been dealt a bad hand in which the justice system essentially threw the book at him. When you compare Joe to all the other characters in his life, it's clear that there are many other “zookeepers” and one specific “doctor” no matter how mystical, who belong in jail cells right alongside him.

The undeniable popularity of the show has morphed Joe Exotic and his legacy into a household name. But the question remains, could this level of notoriety be enough for him to help him get out of jail?

What Is a Presidential Pardon?

The president of the United States has certain privileges he or she can indulge in, one of which includes the presidential pardon. The presidential pardon essentially gives the president the ability to forgive someone of a federal crime and release them from jail. While presidential pardons are not typically the norm, they are not necessarily rare either. In the 20th century alone, there were a little over 20,000 presidential pardons. 

How Many Pardons Has Trump Given? 

To date, President Trump has pardoned only 21 individuals. This is significantly lower than the 212 pardons that President Obama granted during his presidency. Many of the presidential pardons during Obama's administration were drug-related offenses whereas Trump’s pardons are notable for being political criminal offenses. Another interesting but unsurprising aspect of Trump's pardons is the fact that he is receptive to cases that have received national attention. Perhaps the most notable is the Cyntoia Brown case that was spearheaded by pop culture diva, Kim Kardashian.

What Is the Fate of the Tiger King?

The rise in popularity of the Tiger King narrative has certainly not fallen on deaf ears. And whether or not we can believe President Trump has watched the documentary, there is something to be said about the entertainment of it all. Knowing that our president thrives on headlines (and being in the spotlight), a pardon for Joe Exotic would certainly make waves in his administration’s appeal to pop culture. 

Unfortunately, it's not clear whether or not the president would actually have something to gain from such a high-profile pardon. For that reason, the fate of Joe Exotic does not seem to be any different any time soon. However, there is something to be said about the unpredictability between both the president and the Tiger King. For this reason alone, it is safe to say that you really never know what might happen. 

Let us know what you think! Should the Tiger King be considered for a pardon? Share your thoughts with us below!