Shaquille O’Neal defended his appearance on the Netflix Show Tiger King on Monday, saying he “had no idea” about the events occurring at the Oklahoma ranch owned by featured character Joseph Maldonado-Passage.
Maldonado-Passage, who goes by “Joe Exotic,” was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January after being found guilty in a murder-for-hire plot. He was also found guilty of illegally selling tiger cubs.
“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe,” O’Neal said on The Big Podcast With Shaq. “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 stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”
O’Neal appeared on the first episode of the seven-episode series. He toured the zoo and took pictures with the animals, and he later said “shoutout to Exotic Joe,” on TNT.
“I love tigers. I love white tigers,” O’Neal said. “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.”