Dillon Passage said his husband Joe Maldonado-Passage is "100 percent" enjoying the spotlight from behind bars

By Natalie Stone
April 01, 2020 05:33 PM
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Joseph Maldonado-Passage became an overnight sensation after the recent release of Netflix’s Tiger King — and he’s loving it, from behind bars.

On March 26, the streaming service released Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness — from co-directors and writers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin — which examines the life and crimes of Joe, a former country musician, Oklahoma zookeeper, gun enthusiast and big-cat keeper known as Joe Exotic. Joe owned an exotic animal park and boasted of having the largest number of big cats in America. He was found guilty in 2019 for paying a hitman $3,000 to kill Carole Baskin, who he considered his rival.

As millions of people across the country adhere to social distancing and self-quarantine guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, many have binge-watched the docuseries. But Joe, 57, isn’t yet one of them.

Speaking with Andy Cohen on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy on Wednesday, Joe’s husband Dillon Passage confirmed that the Netflix reality star is aware of the show, though he has not seen it.

“He’s in jail, so he can’t necessarily watch it, but once the show dropped he was getting hundreds and hundreds of emails to his jail mail, and he was ecstatic,” Dillon told Cohen.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage
Netflix

“It was a lot of good feedback ,and he likes attention, obviously. He calls himself ‘Joe Exotic the Tiger King,'” said Dillon, who confirmed that Joe is “100 percent” enjoying the spotlight.

Joe, who alleges in the Netflix series Baskin killed her 60-year-old husband, Jack “Don” Lewis, and disposed of his remains by feeding them to her tigers and lions, is now serving 22 years in prison for the attempted murder plot. (She flatly denies the accusation and has never been charged.) He was also also found guilty of killing tigers to make room for more big cats at his exotic animal park.

Joe is currently in in the Grady County Jail in Oklahoma.

While fellow Tiger King stars Baskin, Bhagavan “Doc” Antle and Jeff Lowe didn’t agree with the way they were individually portrayed in the docuseries, Dillon was pleased with how the story was presented.

“The producers, they put the story together very very well,” Dillon said about the show. “They stayed true to the entire storyline, and I even learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about Carole and Joe’s feud. Because I tried to stay out of his business. It wasn’t my place. I wasn’t necessarily involved.”

Dillon Passage and Joseph Maldonado-Passage
Joe Exotic/Instagram

And even he’s surprised at how popular the big cat crime documentary has become.

“Oh, it’s huge. It was never supposed to be this big. The producers were even shocked,” said Dillon, who also told Cohen that Joe is under coronavirus isolation in jail.

“Originally the plot of the show was just supposed to be about the big cat underworld, and then Joe got arrested and it just completely changed the whole dynamic,” he said.