Fact Check

Did Joe Exotic Say He Had Prostate Cancer?

The reality star is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence.

Published May 16, 2021

 (State of Florida)
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Joe Exotic, the reality star behind the Netflix “Tiger King” docuseries, announced in May 2021 that he had prostate cancer.

On May 14, 2021, reality star Joe Exotic revealed on social media that he believed he had prostate cancer and asked U.S. President Joe Biden and other political leaders to sign a pardon releasing him from prison.

The “Tiger King” star, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is in prison serving a 22-year sentence after being convicted in 2020 of 17 violations related to wildlife trafficking and for attempting to hire a hitman to take out rival and critic Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida.

Earlier in May, Baskin weighed in on another case in which a tiger was spotted roaming a neighborhood in Houston, Texas.

“Tigers are hardwired to roam hundreds of square miles, so there’s no cage that’s going to be sufficient for them,” Baskin said on CNN. “And the only reason that people have tigers as pets is to try and show off to others that they are more powerful than the most powerful creature on the planet. That already tells you that the kind of people who own tigers are really dangerous, reckless people.”

Unverified reports of Maldonado-Passage's medical condition began shortly after he was sentenced. In his announcement in May 2021, Maldonado-Passage asked his followers to hold the U.S. Attorney’s Office accountable for what he believed was an injustice in being convicted. At the time of this writing, the agency had not responded to allegations that Maldonado-Passage was erroneously convicted.

Madison Dapcevich is a freelance contributor for Snopes.

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