Joe Exotic provides some of the rare recent pleasures of Twitter, a dying platform he enlists to demand his release from prison, weigh in on current events, and campaign for president. But the source of his tweets has been a mystery for months, since federal inmates are not allowed to tweet from behind bars.
So how does the Tiger King tweet? We received a letter from Joe Exotic himself, in his own hand, explaining all. He had it posted, of course, on Twitter.
Some background: Joe Exotic, whose wild exploits, documented by the hit Tiger King docuseries, kept many of us happily distracted through the early days of the pandemic, is currently in prison in Texas. Last month, we wrote a story noting that “federal inmates do not have access to social media while incarcerated,” according to the Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, where Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage, now lives.
We contacted Joe Exotic’s attorney and direct messaged his account asking who was sending those fiery tweets about things like the submarine implosion. For a while, we received no response. Then a person running the Twitter account, who declined to give their name, urged to write to Joe Exotic in prison.
Finally, last night, Joe Exotic himself reached out, when his social media person posted this letter on Twitter, addressed to the author of our past story and the one you’re now reading:
If you can’t read his very nice handwriting, Joe Exotic writes, in part: “@Tim Molloy, I can assure you that what is posted on my social media comes from me and me only. My team gets in the mail 6-10 posts a day from me in the mail. They control the comments and likes but the rest is all me, sir!”
He also makes a pitch for his 2024 presidential campaign.
“I have a huge voice of reason, better than the corruption running our country today! That’s why I’m running for president, because someone must tell people like it is. What does America have to loose at this point?”
In the letter, dated July 3, he also blames President Biden, whom he hopes to unseat and from whom he is seeking a pardon, for the fact that he is presently in solitary confinement.
“At least I will know what it’s like running the country from the basement!” he jokes.
Joe Exotic was sentenced to prison in January 2020 after a federal jury convicted him of two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. He was accused of putting out a hit on his nemesis, Carole Baskin. Exotic argues, however, that he was framed for the killing.
Though he was sentenced to 22 years behind bars, Bureau of Prisons records, which you can access by typing in “Joseph Maldonado-Passage” here, list his release date as 2035.
Maldano-Passage-Exotic was previously held at the Grady County jail in Chickasha, Okla., which makes several appearances in Tiger King, but was moved to the medical facility in Texas during the Covid pandemic, likely due to a history of health problems. Prison officials said during the surges in the virus that they were weighing the possibility of releasing some inmates to minimize the potential harm of Covid, but the Tiger King icon was not ultimately released.
Despite needing to tweet by mail, the Tiger King does is quick with hot takes about current events.
After U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw became one of many to weigh in on the submarine implosion, @joe_exotic tweeted: “Quit looking for someone to blame,” adding, ““They built it, got in it and took that risk, launched it and if it imploded no one could have done anything. Hats off to the @USCG and everyone who searched for it. Maybe God just don’t want us at the bottom of the ocean to screw with things.”
He was widely praised for what many saw as a sensitive take on a terrible situation.
Other Joe Exotic tweets have been less widely embraced, as when he urged LGBTQ+ activists to tone in down.
“You LGBTQ people in todays [sic] movement need to clean up your act, dress appropriate, act civilized and be respectful and you would gain so much more respect then doing this s— in public and thinking your cute,” went one tweet. “As a gay man I am ashamed of those of you who represent my life style. Get your s— together.”
We don’t agree with all of Joe Exotic’s tweets, but we do find them almost relentlessly entertaining. Which could also be said of his wild antics in the Tiger King docuseries. And if and when Twitter goes extinct, we can’t wait to follow him on Threads.
Main image: Joe Exotic with a friend and the letter he delivered to MovieMaker from prison.
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