Tiger King star Joe Exotic’s husband, Dillon Passage, says he does not have a “secret” son. On the heels of the release of the Netflix blockbuster, Passage — who married Joe in 2017 — said Brandon Chappell is not his stepson.
In a radio interview on Channel Q’s The Morning Beat, Passage, 22, denounced reality TV producer Rick Kirkham’s claims that Joe, 57, has an adult son named Brandon who briefly appeared in the Tiger King documentary.
“Joe does not have any kids, okay?” Passage told the radio show. “I recently heard the same rumor, and I was like, are you trying to tell me that I’m a stepdad to a 38-year-old and I have grandkids? Joe used to be with this girl, her name was Kim. But when him and Kim split up, Joe’s brother actually got with Kim and they had a son and that is Brandon Chappell.”
Passage also said that he will always be ‘Team Joe,” even if he does eventually meet someone else and moves on while his husband serves out his 22-year prison sentence.
While Passage is adamant his man is not a father, Kirkham — whose commentary was featured heavily featured in Tiger King — alleged during a livestream Q&A session that Joe has an adult son who worked with him at The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, according to a video shared by the New York Post.
Joe was said to have fathered Brandon with an ex-girlfriend when he worked as a police chief in Texas in the early 1980s. Brandon is now 38 years old and has three children of his own. In the Q&A, Kirkham said Joe’s relationship with his son was strained and that he feels the openly gay former zoo owner may have “regretted” having a child.
“His son Brandon is in the documentary and I’m surprised that the documentary didn’t bring that up,” Kirkham said. “Joe treated his son worse than he treated the other employees.”
Kirkham is not the only one who claims Joe is a father. In an interview with the Daily Mail, the former zookeeper’s niece, Chealsi Putman, said that her controversial uncle has an adult son with his former girlfriend, Kim.
Putman alleged that Joe was “in and out of Brandon’s life” when he was growing up, but that as an adult, the younger man and his then-wife both worked at the Tiger King star’s zoo in Oklahoma. She said her uncle made no secret that Brandon was his son, but that the two became estranged after Joe reportedly tried to push Brandon’s wife into committing fraud by “doctoring the zoo’s books and checking accounts.”