‘Tiger King’ star Joe Exotic smitten, files for divorce from husband to wed jailhouse lover

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Joe Exotic is back in the headlines after news broke that the star of the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King” will divorce his current husband in order to enter into wedlock with another man who he met in prison where he is serving out a 21-year sentence.

The 59-year-old Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage filed to end his four-year marriage to 25-year-old Dillon Passage on Thursday, clearing the way for him to get hitched to John Graham with who he has had a blissful relationship after hooking behind bars at Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, a facility for inmates with medical and mental heath issues last year when he was moved following his being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The trials and tribulations of the flamboyant, openly gay, exotic animal zookeeper were detailed in the hit series that drew a massive audience when it initially aired in 2020 during the early days of the COVID pandemic as Americans who were locked down and housebound entertained themselves by watching the captivating true crime story featuring a collection of strange and colorful characters, none more so than Joe Exotic.

(Video: YouTube/Netflix)

Joe Exotic spoke of his love for Graham who has been released from prison after serving 10 years of a 12 year sentence for burglary and possession of a firearm according to court documents obtained by celebrity gossip website TMZ.

The “Tiger King” announced his engagement via Twitter.

“John Robert Graham and I are officially engaged and plan to marry as soon as my divorce is final. We were together over one year in prison and he is home now with our son. I have never met such an amazing man in my life. He treats me so well, you will love him…” he wrote.

Exotic’s lawyer, Autumn Beck Blackledge dished details to People magazine, noting that while the couple split last year, Passage was alleged to have “failed to serve his husband and did not follow through with obtaining a divorce through the legal system” and that he hopes that “they can both move on with their lives and divorce quickly and amicably,”

“Joe is nearing the end of his cancer treatment and has fallen in love. He has no ill will toward Dillon, but has been trying for a while to reach him to get a divorce settlement,” Blackledge said in a statement. “My understanding is that both Joe and Dillion have moved on romantically and they should both have the freedom to love again free from the bonds of marriage.”

The two were married in 2017, two months after Exotic’s first husband Travis Maldonado died after accidentally shooting himself at the Oklahoma wildlife zoo.

The “Tiger King” was arrested in 2018 after a federal investigation with the most serious charge being that he attempted to hire hitmen to kill rival Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist who runs the wild life sanctuary Big Cat Rescue which is located near Tampa after a nasty feud between the two took a dark turn.

In the original Netflix series, it is suggested that Baskin may have been involved in the disappearance of her wealthy husband Don Lewis who mysteriously vanished in 1997, creating a cloud of suspicion that hovers over her to this day with Joe Exotic fanning the flames.

The popularity of the “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” has led to two sequels, “Tiger King 2” and “Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story” an in-depth look at one of the bizarre secondary  characters from the original series, which is billed by Netflix as detailing “disturbing allegations of sexual abuse, violence and misconduct by big cat zoo owner Bhagavan “Doc” Antle.”


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