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‘Tiger King’ Star Joe Exotic Responds To Penn State Alum’s Letter

You know what they say: boredom sparks creativity. Penn State alum Bryce Starner took that saying to heart during quarantine and funneled that monotony into writing a letter to the Tiger King, Joe Exotic, who unexpectedly responded.

Netflix’s hit docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, served as Starner’s entertainment source and distraction from the coronavirus pandemic when it premiered this spring. The show follows Exotic’s life and the ridiculous world of big cat conservationists.

Exotic is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire of his rival and owner of Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin. Luckily, serving hard time has given him plenty of time to send some letters.

Starner has collected autographed memorabilia since he was a kid, a hobby he recently picked up again thanks to quarantine. He saw a post from an autograph collector who sent Joe Exotic a letter and a homemade Joe Exotic Detroit Tigers baseball card. Exotic returned the now-autographed baseball card and sent the collector a personal letter.

Starner thought the concept of writing to Exotic was funny and decided to send his own letter to him. However, he never expected Exotic to actually respond.

“I found the address to the prison in Texas and wrote him a short letter, thinking it was nothing more than a joke, just telling him how entertaining the show was, wishing him well,” Starner said.

It took Exotic about two months to respond to Starner’s letter, which he forgot that he had sent at that point. When Starner opened the mailbox and saw the letter, all he could do is laugh.

“[I] saw a letter addressed to me from Joseph Maldonado Passage [Joe Exotic’s real name] and started cracking up in my driveway,” Starner said.

In his letter, Exotic shared how the judicial system failed him and asked Starner to write a letter to President Trump on his behalf in hopes of a presidential pardon. He ended the letter with a simple yet sweet “Be my voice — love you!”

“It was really bizarre, but hilarious nonetheless!”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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