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Tiger King tells the bizarre story of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka “Joe Exotic,” a former tiger zoo owner who is currently in prison for a murder-for-hire plot.
On the latest episode of his podcast “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” the former NBA star and current analyst says that yes, he visited Joe Exotic’s Oklahoma zoo years ago and yes, he did make donations, but he did not buy any animals (even though he says he bought two in the doc).
“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe,” O’Neal began. “We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with [the] tigers. We went back a couple times,” O’Neal said. “Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”
The former Laker says he visited the zoo a few times, but when he learned that animals were being mistreated and that Maldonado-Passage was a shady character, he never returned.
“I don’t harm tigers,” he said on the podcast. “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.”
O’Neal added that he watched the entire Netflix doc series and found it interesting.
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