Tiger King: Was Joe Exotic framed? New doco ‘What Really Went Down’ explores the show’s biggest questions


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Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably heard of Tiger King.

The seven-part series has been watched by 64 million people around the world and shares the story of Joe Exotic, an owner of a big cat animal park in Oklahoma.

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But this isn’t a David Attenborough documentary – this is one of the weirdest, wildest and way-out-there shows we’ve ever seen.

The problem is that once you finish, you’re left with more questions than answers. But thankfully, there’s a new show now to fill in some of the blanks.

Tiger King: What Really Went Down is an investigation into the true-crime story the world is talking about, and features exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage, covering the outstanding questions about whether or not Joe Exotic is guilty.

“There are two things that I think people are really interested in,” said Executive Producer Harvey Levin.

“One, was Joe framed? Was he wrongly convicted?

‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic (real name Joe Maldonado-Passage). Credit: Netflix

“I’ve got to tell you, I didn’t know the answer to that having watched the series – but having done our investigation and talking to 19 people and putting them on camera, I wouldn’t have convicted Joe Exotic.

“I wouldn’t have convicted him, and I wouldn’t have convicted him for all sorts of reasons.”

‘It was payback’

“The alleged hitman told me that it was payback,” Levin said.

“And he told me it was not only payback when he testified that Joe gave him $3,000 to kill Carole Baskin, but he also said he wished he could do more to hurt him.

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‘His credibility is in question.’

“That, in the law, is called a biased witness. He is the only person who testified that Joe gave him money.

“I think his credibility is in question because he seems really biased and angry, and had the jury heard that, I’m not sure they would have convicted him.

“But there are all sorts of reasons why I have issues with the way that trial went down.”

‘Murder and mayhem’

Even if you haven’t seen the Tiger King series on Netflix, the special investigation will explain everything that happened.

“You don’t have to see the Tiger King Netflix special to watch this and understand it,” Levin said.

“What we’re going to show you here is, there is a big thing about this guy, Joe Exotic, who is now in prison for 22 years for putting a hit out on Carole Baskin and allegedly killing these tigers.

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“He is appealing. His lawyers are actually taking a bus to Washington DC to ask for a pardon from Donald Trump, and they are appealing.

“We’re getting into this, and whether that’s going to work – and whether maybe Joe was set up.

Rivals Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin.
Rivals Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. Credit: AP/Netflix

“And then the other side is Carole Baskin. She is the alleged victim in the hit. Well, guess what? She is a suspicious character according to the sheriff in Tampa in the death of her husband Don Lewis.

“We have a lot of information on that as well. So I think you’re going to kind of get into the mystery here of literally murder and mayhem.”

Could Joe receive a pardon?

“Joe Exotic is now a big reality star,” Levin said.

“So he has a kindred spirit in Donald Trump – and if Donald Trump believes that Joe Exotic is so popular that it could help him win re-election, I would bet money on (the pardon).

President Donald Trump says he’ll “take a look” at the legal case of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” who is the central figure of the new Netflix series “Tiger King.”

“On top of that, he’s appealing the conviction based on what I believe are pretty substantial grounds.”

Did Carole Baskin kill her husband?

Harvey is well-known as the creator of the website TMZ – but he is also a former lawyer.

And while he would not outright state whether or not he believes Carole Baskin killed her husband Don Lewis, he does think there is a significant detail in Lewis’ will.

“Don Lewis had a clause in his will that said, ‘in the event of my death or disappearance, all of my worldly assets will go to Carole Baskin’,” Levin said.

“I have been a lawyer for a long, long time – and I have done wills and I know lawyers who do it for a living.

“I have never heard of a will in all my years of practice – ever – say ‘in case of my disappearance’. What the hell does that mean? Who writes that in a will?”

Tiger King: What Really Went Down premieres Tuesday, 7.30pm on Seven.