The Tiger King Is Getting Married

By Michileen Martin | 2 weeks ago

tiger king

Not even prison could stop the Tiger King from falling in love. Joe Exotic, the subject of the hit 2020 docuseries Tiger King — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — isn’t yet divorced from Dillon Passage, but that hasn’t stopped cupid’s arrow from finding him all the way in the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. A report surfaced from his attorneys today that he’s engaged.

TMZ posted the full letter from the Tiger King today, including the news that he’s engaged to marry 36-year-old John Graham. His letter says after he was released from solitary confinement, he met Graham and he compares their romance to the fantasy series Twilight. He says once they were an item Graham would wake him up on his way to work detail, and Maldonado-Passage would have dinner ready for him by the time he was back. He calls Graham a “practicing witch” who “talks like he is from 400 years ago.” They began dating in March 2021 and have been engaged since August. Graham has apparently since been released from prison, but that hasn’t held back their romance. Joe says they talk three times a day.

As you may remember if you watched Tiger King, Maldonado-Passage married Dillon Passage in 2017. Their split was announced last March and, as reported by People, Maldonado-Passage filed for divorce last month. His lawyers claimed Passage had failed to move forward with finalizing the divorce on his own, while Passage’s lawyers responded that their client had attempted to file twice with Joe Exotic refusing to sign.

tiger king
Joe Exotic and Dillon Passage in Tiger King

The Tiger King’s letter to TMZ mentions his ex almost as much as it mentions his husband-to-be. There are references to an injunction Passage apparently wants him to agree to that would bar him from speaking to Passage again. Early in the letter Maldonado-Passage says he “will never agree” to it because Passage “has nothing to worry about” and because he refuses “to give the DOJ that kind of thing to use against” him. Later he calls Passage’s offer “extortion” and makes reference to his ex selling his clothes.

In November, it was announced the Tiger King star had been diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer. Maldonado-Passage delayed the start of his treatment until after his resentencing, which did not go the way he hoped. This past January, the Oklahoma Western District Court shaved only a year off his prison sentence — 21 years instead of 22. He was previously convicted of attempting to hire two men, including an undercover FBI agent, to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin.

In his letter to TMZ, the Tiger King talks about his battle with cancer, saying he has “16 more radiation treatments” followed by a “30 day wait to see if it’s in remission.” He also seems convinced that he’ll be released from prison, owing to some apparently newly discovered evidence that will exonerate him. He writes that as soon as his divorce is final, he and Graham want to get married “right away.” While he says they will get married in prison if necessary, his husband-to-be’s dream is to get married in an “ancient forest.”