While we were all trapped inside our homes the self-proclaimed Tiger King captivated 64 million viewers. The popular Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness made Joe Exotic a household name.
News 9’s Sylvia Corkill made an appearance in the docu-series and recounts the rise and fall of Joe Exotic.
"I'm so sorry I did this to you," said Joseph Maldonado- Passage.
"Hun they were accusing you of stuff before we were even married," said Joseph's husband Dillon Passage.
A very exposed Joe Exotic in rare form visibly shaken and brought to tears just two days following his
arrest in Florida in September of 2018.
"It's all over the news isn't it?" said Maldonado-Passage.
The road to prison a winding one. Over the years he went from proud tiger park owner to magic man.
2016 presidential and then 2018 gubernatorial candidate,
"Hi, I'm Joe Exotic, also known as Joseph Maldonado-Passage. And I'm
running for governor," said Maldonado Passage.
"Joe is, was, and will always be your classic Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde character," said former campaign manager Joshua Dial.
He said while Joe may have done some bad things he also did a lot of good.
"I just dont want people to hate us because of this," said Maldonado-Passage.
Those close to him recalled better days with Joe basking in the limelight.
"He's always been a showman," said restaurant owner JP Wilson.
Days, where long before the orange jumpsuit, Joe Maldonado-Passage was dawning custom sequined
shirts and signature tasseled leathers.
"He'd show up for breakfast, meet everyone there in his rhinestone jacket, jeans, hat, show
Regalia ready to perform, said Wilson.
"We put out honk if you think Carol killed her husband," said Wilson.
Owner of Falcone's Pizza, JP Wilson also an accomplished magician, is a familiar face during Thunder and OU halftime shows. In 2004, Wilson taught Joe everything he knows about illusion and the world of magic.
Soon after, they took their act on the road.
"It was definitely a lot of fun and definitely a three ring circus every time we
had to perform a show. There was always something he forgot," said Wilson.
But by 2008 opportunities for the duo vanished.
"We had to stop doing them eventually mainly because of Carol Baskin, " said Wilson.
Animal rights activist and tiger sanctuary owner Carole Baskin started to impact businesses profiting from big cats.
"Calling and complaining to every theater owner we were killing animals and these lies that were definitely not true, said Wilson.
He said it wasn't until 2016 that the two really reconnected as Joe geared up for his presidential run.
"We were a campaign pickup point and ask for the merchandise," said Wilson.
Then just two years later, Joe went from the campaign trail to on the run, accused of hiring someone to
kill rival Carol Baskin.
"I'm hoping that we can get a decent bond," said Maldonado-Passage.
"Something was bound to happen after everything he had posted, everything he had," said Wilson.
With bond denied Joe continued to maintain his innocence from behind bars.
"Your bond is going to be like a million dollars," said Dillon Passage.
"I am supposed to be in this country, born, raised, innocent until proven guilty, and I
have been stripped of my clothes, rights, my identity, my dignity," said Maldonado-Passage.
Joe claimed he was setup by the government and current owner of Wynnewood Zoo Jeff Lowe, claiming their relationship soured after Lowe forced him out.
Allegations Lowe flatly denies.
"Lauren and I are victims in this just as the tigers are victims in this," said Lowe.
Fast forward two years later. When a jury found Joseph Maldanado-Passage guilty on all 19 counts.
"I'm grateful that justice was served," said Carole Baskin.
But even in spite of a conviction many debate if he's where he belongs.
“The truth about Joe Exotic is like pandora's box. You look at one
thing, it leads to another, there's another person involved," said Wilson.
The 57-year- old is now serving out a 22 year sentence. He was recently transferred to a Fort Worth prison where he remains in lockdown 24 hours a day due to COVID-19 concerns.