Time for an Update on Joe Exotic’s Net Worth Which Is Quite Literally Less Than Zero

SoooOoooOooo Tiger King 2 is about to drop right in time for you to avoid literally everyone in your family during Thanksgiving, and the time has come to brush up on Joe Exotic’s finances, which…are a mess. To be clear, Joe’s total net worth appears to be less than zero. But how he allegedly got there is a true journey that involves bankruptcy, lawsuits, and a frankly alarming number of tiger print underwear with his face on the crotch. Let’s dive in, but not before enjoying the world’s best GIF:

First of All, Joe Had an Inheritance

Emphasis on had, but yeah: Joseph Maldonado-Passage (aka Joe Exotic) got $250,000 in a trust fund from his wealthy grandfather, so if you’re wondering how he even started his zoo, he had money to play with from day one.

His Mall Tours Were Cash Cows Tigers (so sorry)

Before Joe was chilling full-time at the G. W. Zoo (and then chilling full-time in jail), he set up a mobile petting zoo that toured malls across the country. And he made a ton of money along the way. New York Magazine reports that “Joe bragged that his mobile petting zoo once pulled in $23,697 in five days.” I mean…okay, Joe!

The G. W. Zoo Was Probably Pretty Profitable?

Exact figures on the roadside zoo’s yearly profits aren’t widely available, but in this video Joe says general admission started at $15:

And don’t forget that Joe’s overhead was relatively small. He had employees who complained they were barely paid, kept his tigers fed using roadkill and discarded meat from the grocery store, and didn’t seem to spend much money on keeping things…um…clean.

Joe also had a knack for convincing fans to front his expenses. According to the Daily Beast, Joe rescued three bears from a circus trainer in 2001 and got his followers to donate more than $17,000 for their care. The outlet reports that his park was “festooned with memorial plaques and posters begging for cash” and that he “raked in serious royalties.”

Plus, Joe was was into breeding, and former crew members say he made “between $1,500 and $10,000 for hybrid cubs.” So, yeah, he was generating a lot of income for a while there. Until, of course, he wasn’t.

Buuut He Filed for Bankruptcy

Joe spent years embroiled in legal drama with his arch nemesis Carole Baskin, and New York Magazine reports that he allegedly once told a hitman (who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent) she’d “cost us almost three-quarter of a million dollars in lawyers already.” On top of that, the Daily Beast reports that Joe was ordered to pay Big Cat Rescue $1 million in damages back in 2013, which lead to him filing for bankruptcy. And let’s not forget that he was ordered to turn over his zoo, several cabins, and even his cars to Carole.

As we saw in Tiger King, Joe was clearly cash-strapped, and fellow big-cat enthusiast Jeff Lowe was a way out—er, at least for a hot second. Joe ended up putting the zoo in Jeff’s name, stayed on as an “entertainment director,” and got $100,000 to ~sweeten the deal~. Not bad, but even so, it doesn’t sound like Mr. Exotic had a lot of money in the bank around the time of his arrest in 2019.

Just note that Joe has managed to make some income in jail. Back in 2020 he cashed in on the popularity of Tiger King by releasing an underwear line called REVENGE. His first collection sold out in mere hours and raked in $20,000, per TMZ.


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He Tried Suing for $94 Million

‘Kay, so last April, Joe was convicted on two counts of murder-for-hire and was not having it. According to the New York Times, this dude filed a lawsuit “seeking nearly $94 million in damages against the Department of the Interior, a prosecutor, and others,” saying he was the victim of discrimination as “an openly gay male with the largest collection of generic tigers and crossbreeds.” He ended up dropping the lawsuit in August 2020.

So, What’s Joe Exotic’s Exact Net Worth?

When it comes to Joe’s specific net worth, there’s really no way to know what he has in the bank, but Celebrity Net Worth says the number is approximately zero. And that on top of that he still owes $1 million in debt. So if that checks out, then Joe Exotic’s net worth would be -$1 million.

Back in July it was announced that Joe could be re-sentenced, so if he gets out of jail and subsequently gets a chance to profit off his Netflix fame, he could potentially get back outta the red!

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