“Shaq, here with my main man, Joe, and Joe just gave me this tiger for a present,” Shaquille O’Neal says jokingly at the beginning of a 2014 clip for Joe Exotic TV hosted by the now infamous “Tiger King.”
As viewers saw during the Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Shaq is a big fan of tigers so he visited Joe Exotic’s GW Zoo several times in the past, even giving Joe a plug once on Inside the NBA.
Since the airing of Tiger King, Shaq has been taking a lot of heat for appearing to be friends with Joe Exotic.
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So on the latest episode of The Big Podcast With Shaq he addressed his appearance in Tiger King and his relationship with Joe Exotic.
“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe,” Shaq explained. “We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tiger foods and all that. We take pictures with tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we went back another time and I found out he’s involved in all this stuff and actually I stopped going. But I had no idea all that stuff was going on. It’s actually a really good documentary. I binge watched it.”
“People that know me know that I’m righteous,” Shaq added. “I don’t harm tigers. I love tigers. I love white tigers. And 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.”
“I was just a visitor,” continued. “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.”
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As for the new owner of the zoo, Jeff Lowe, who was also portrayed in a very, very bad light in Tiger King, Shaq did not address his relationship with him, but Lowe’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park posted a photo of Shaq Facetiming them the day after Tiger King was released with the caption, “One of the nicest guys in the World. Shaq facetime’d a few minutes ago to see how we were doing and if we need anything. We love you too buddy.”
Of course, Shaq isn’t the only famous person to have associated with the big cat collectors that appeared in Tiger King. Not by a long shot.
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