With the majority of the populace confined to their homes, "Tiger King" has become the latest streaming sensation on Netflix.
Sports fans who have binged the documentary on the wild world of big cats in the U.S. caught a glimpse of former NBA star and Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal strolling through the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka "Joe Exotic" and the main figure of the series.
"Shout out Exotic Joe," O'Neal says during the opening episode of the documentary. "I got two more tigers."
O'Neal took to his podcast, "The Big Podcast with Shaq," to clarify a couple of points: one, he does not own any tigers; and two, he is not buddies with Joe Exotic (Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January on charges of a murder-for-hire plot and selling tiger cubs illegally).
"It's a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe," O'Neal said. "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. Then we go back another time and we found out that he's involved with all the (illegal) stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going. But I had no idea all that stuff was going on."
O'Neal said he first came across the zoo — the rural Oklahoma ranch that housed the tigers — during a bus trip between games against the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"The Big Aristotle" said he binge-watched "Tiger King" recently and described his affinity for big cats.
"I don't harm tigers," O'Neal said. "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."
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