John Oliver Recalls Discovering Tiger King's Joe Exotic in 2016: 'Could This Be Real?'

John Oliver knew about infamous zookeeper Joe Exotic long before the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Oliver recalled featuring Joseph Maldonado-Passage, otherwise known as Joe Exotic, in a 2016 segment on Last Week Tonight during the zookeeper’s short-lived presidential run.

“We were looking for kind of the craziest third-party candidate, found his ad, and it was like the lowest-hanging, juiciest fruit,” Oliver told Seth Meyers during an at-home appearance on Late Night. “Almost you think, ‘Could this — could this be real? Mmm, so sweet. So juicy.’ ”

During the segment, Oliver showed Maldonado-Passage’s now-viral campaign video, in which he proudly states, “I am not cutting my hair. I’m not changing the way I dress, I refuse to wear a suit … I am gay. I’ve had two boyfriends most of my life. I’m broke as s—.”



As fans now know, Maldonado-Passage had a long rivalry with Carole Baskin, who runs an exotic big-cat sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, in Citrus Park, Florida. He is currently serving 22 years in prison after being found guilty in 2019 for paying a man $3,000 to try to kill her.

Tiger King became an instant hit, reaching over 34 million viewers in its first 10 days.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is streaming now on Netflix.

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