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Tiger King: How Many Husbands Did Joe Exotic Have?

Tiger King: A Guide to Joe Exotic's Many Marriages

Tiger King

Netflix's documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is the wild tale of Joe Exotic (his real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, but he was born Joseph Schreibvogel), a zookeeper of sorts who bred big cats while leading a controversial life of animal abuse, polygamy, and conspiracy to murder. Joe has gone through a string of husbands in his lifetime, though not all of his marriages were official, due to gay marriage not being legal until recently. Take a look at Maldonado-Passage's relationship history ahead.

1. Brian Rhyne

While Maldonado-Passage was working at a gay bar in Texas in the '80s, he met Rhyne, and the two married, though the marriage wasn't official. Together, the two started Maldonado-Passage's zoo in Oklahoma using the money Maldonado-Passage got when his brother Garold perished in a car accident. In 2001, Rhyne died from HIV, and Maldonado-Passage held his funeral at the zoo.

2. J.C. Hartpence

After Rhyne's death, Maldonado-Passage met Hartpence and the two quickly fell into a relationship. It appears the two were married, though once again, it wasn't technically legal at the time. Maldonado-Passage was still with Hartpence when his next husband, John Finlay, entered his life. After a very tumultuous relationship, Maldonado-Passage and Hartpence split.

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3. John Finlay

Maldonado-Passage hired Finlay in 2003 to work at the zoo and quickly started a romantic relationship with him despite the fact that he was still with Hartpence. The two continued dating for 10 years. Maldonado-Passage married Finlay in a three-way wedding with Travis Maldonado in 2014.

4. Travis Maldonado

According to Texas Monthly, Maldonado struggled with meth addiction before one of Maldonado-Passage's employees suggested that he take Maldonado in and let him work with the animals as a form of rehab. Maldonado-Passage did just that in late 2013 and ended up marrying him, alongside Finlay, just a month later. The zoo-themed wedding was held across the street from Maldonado-Passage's park and he even shared it on his YouTube channel.

The three-way marriage didn't quite work for Maldonado-Passage, Finlay, and Maldonado, and Finlay ended up leaving the others. In 2017, when Maldonado was just 23, he accidentally shot himself in the head and died, leaving Maldonado-Passage an absolute wreck and borderline suicidal.

5. Dillon Passage

Two months after Maldonado's death, Maldonado-Passage married Dillon Passage. The two ended up moving to Florida before Maldonado-Passage went to trial for his many crimes. Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison in early 2020. It's unclear if he's still married to Passage.

Image Source: Netflix
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