Joe Exotic's Presidential Campaign Timeline Is As Wild As You'd Expect

by Danielle Burgos
Originally Published: 

New Netflix doc Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness dives into the surreal world of big cat breeders, with a heavy focus on the scandalous life of zoo owner Joe Exotic. But those who haven't watched the documentary still might recognize Exotic's name — from when he ran for President of the United States. Confused? Surprised? All par for the course with Tiger King. Joe Exotic's presidential campaign timeline might help straighten at least one thing out.

Late November 2015: Exotic announced his bid for the American presidency, with the slogan "A Common Man For All." His first campaign video featured Exotic along with his tigers. In the ad he announced, "I've had some kinky sex; I have tried drugs during the younger years of my life." Exotic also cleared the air on everything from being happily married to a man, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, and anti-gun reform.

Early December 2015: Oklahoma's KFOR News noted he'd filed the federal paperwork and was now officially running as a third-party candidate, under the committee Joe Exotic and the People For America. In the segment interview, Exotic admitted, "What is my chances of winning? Who knows, you know? Pretty slim. But I'm gonna give 'em a run for the money."

October 2016: Exotic's campaign got a boost during the final month leading up to election, when John Oliver featured him in a segment called "Third Parties" on Last Week Tonight. While the segment mostly focused on major third-party contenders like the Green Party's Jill Stein and Libertarian's Gary Johnson, Oliver kept coming back to Exotic. "Joe Exotic truly is the candidate you'd like to sit down and have a beer with, and then another beer, and then several more beers until you're drunk enough to try meth for the first time. The point is — Joe Exotic: Make America Exotic Again," joked Oliver.

November 2016: As you might've guessed, Exotic did not win the presidency, getting only 962 votes. But that didn't dampen his enthusiasm for politics. Just a few years later in 2018, he ran for governor of his home state of Oklahoma, telling local media he was running because, "I can't keep my mouth shut for four more years."

Despite his unorthodox style, Exotic's political platform — which included better state elder care and mental health resources, increasing teacher pay, and criminal drug justice reform — actually hit at many problems plaguing Oklahoma. Balletopedia says Exotic earned a total of 664 votes, placing third out of three candidates in the 2018 Libertarian primary for Governor of Oklahoma. It wasn't enough to qualify him for the main election but his campaign lives on in infamy.

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