She got punk’d! Tiger King star Carole Baskin was a good sport about being tricked into giving her first public interview since the hit Netflix docuseries went viral. “It gave us a very welcome good laugh,” she said after being fooled into a fake appearance on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
“I was suspicious as we were doing it because the questions appeared taped. But had no idea it would turn out to be such a fun prank,” the owner of Big Cat Rescue told Us Weekly on Sunday, May 3.
YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners pulled one over on the 58-year-old by impersonating a production company that books celebrity talent for talk show appearances. She previously declined interview requests for the show because she doesn’t agree with the way she was portrayed in the docuseries. Although she originally rejected the phony invitation to be interviewed by Jimmy Fallon over video conference, she later agreed on the grounds that questions would only be about her big cats.
To conduct the interview, the pranksters downloaded a series of soundbites of relevant questions for Tonight Show and played them for Carole to answer on screen. She was informed prior to the interview she wouldn’t be able to see Jimmy “because they’re filming [the show] on the cameras in his house.”
“I appreciate their cleverness and that they created their video in a way that I don’t feel was in any way mean-spirited,” the activist admitted.
During her fake interview, Carole shared how she and her big cats have been holding up amid the coronavirus pandemic. She revealed she had to let go of half her staff, adding she uncertain “if we’re ever going to be able to do tours again.”
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The cool cat became a household name after the documentary highlighted her allegedly suspicious past. The show featured interviews from her rival, Joe Exotic, and family members who believe she may have had something to do with the disappearance of her husband Don Lewis. In 1997, Don told Carole he was going to Costa Rica, although flight records indicated there was no travel to the island during that time. He was declared missing two days later after his van was found at a private airport, although some believe the vehicle was planted there. Despite a police investigation, Don was never found and declared dead five years later in 2002, leaving Carole with his immense fortune. Carole has consistently denied any involvement in Don’s disappearance.
Additionally, Carole was targeted by Joe (real name: Joseph Maldanado-Passage) in a murder-for-hire plot. In September 2018, Maldanado-Passage, 57, was arrested for hiring a hitman to kill Carole and various other charges of animal abuse. He was found guilty of 21 counts, including two counts related to Carole’s murder-for-hire plot, illegally breeding exotic animals and selling or attempting to sell tigers without a federal permit. He was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.
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