Joe Exotic draws on an unexpected reality TV friendship while in prison

For many, Netflix’s “Tiger King” may have felt like an early-pandemic fever dream. However, the drama never stopped for lead actor Joe Exotic. Season 1 of the controversial series took us to the big cat fanatic’s zoo in Oklahoma, where things quickly took a dark turn. When the first season aired, Exotic had been sentenced to 22 years in prison. As reported by NPR, he was convicted of murdering a tiger friend, Carole Baskin.

The series star’s imprisonment didn’t stop Netflix from filming a second season, much of which revolved around Exotic’s petition for freedom. Vulture summarized a notable episode in which Exotics friends and fans flew to Washington, DC to beg Donald Trump for a presidential pardon. Unfortunately, they chose January 6, 2021 to visit…so the focus was mostly elsewhere.

Despite the dawn of a new year and a new president, Exotic maintains his innocence and hopes for freedom. Now it seems the man has found a new reality TV star to support his cause.

Joe Exotic hopes TLC’s Jesse Meester will help him get a pardon

What was Tiger King if not a love story between a man and his cats? It seems 90 Day Fiancé alumni Jesse Meester has bonded with Joe Exotic’s big heart as he’s the latest to join his quest for freedom. Joe Exotic’s Instagram page, which provides regular updates to its 352,000 followers, recently shared a shirtless photo of Meester and a heartfelt caption.

“Meet my amazing dear friend Jesse Meester,” the post began. “He will help me get a voice in the White House for President Biden to sign my pardon before November of this year.” Reaffirming his support in the comments section, Meester wrote, “People close to you have turned their backs on you, but not us. You have helped so many people through lockdown and we should never forget the truth and authenticity with which you lived your life.”

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Meester has also had experience creating entertainment during times of social distancing. After his unsuccessful attempt at love through 90 Day Fiance, he sought a virtual partner on TLC’s show Find Love Live. In an interview with People, he said, “Being quarantined at home shouldn’t stop us from trying to make connections.” It seems Exotic shares a similar philosophy, as even prison isolation didn’t stop him to find a new ally.