Contrary to what fans may have seen on Netflix‘s latest buzzworthy series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Shaquille O’Neal wants it to be clear that he is not friends with Joe Exotic, the subject of the docu-series. On last week’s episode of his Podcast One show, The Big Podcast With Shaq, the NBA star-turned-commentator addressed what led to his cameo on the show.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Shaq said that even the shout-out heard on the documentary — in which he tells his TNT co-hosts that he purchased “two more tigers” from “Exotic Joe” — was false. He does, however, admit to have visited the G.W. Exotic Animal Park on more than one occasion, even posing with some of the big cats and tiger cubs on site. But Shaq maintains that those visits came to an end as soon as he learned that the animals being held at the facility were not being cared for ethically.
“I don’t harm tigers. I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”
Unfortunately, his cameo on Episode 1 of Tiger King is not the only evidence that the Lakers legend once supported Joe Exotic — also known as Joe Schreibvogel and Joseph Maldonado-Passage. The Washington Post reported that, in 2016, Shaq visited the G.W. Zoo while in Oklahoma City for a Western Conference finals game between the OKC Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. He then told a local TV station that he would “endorse Joe Exotic for president,” while heaping praise on the facility and its eccentric owner.
The Post also adds that, in 2015, Shaq claimed to have purchase a pair of white tiger cubs back in 1995. The statement on the podcast that he does not personally have tigers at his house is supported by the fact that, when he boasted of the purchase, those two tigers were allegedly being raised on a farm in Jacksonville.
For his part, Joe Exotic also told Oklahoma City’s Fox 25 that Shaq’s co-host had misquoted him and that the basketball superstar never actually purchased any tigers, though he was sponsoring a couple of G.W. animals.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, with so many viewers binge-watching Tiger King and discussing the show’s wild cast of characters on social media, Netflix execs are already discussing the possibility of a second season.