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Osceola woman manages Joe Exotic's web store and has his power of attorney

An Indiana University journalism professor said that Indiana will work its way into every story. Happy, sad, good, bad. There is a Hoosier connection. Probably not all the time, but it does seem to come up that way.

Here’s the next one: "Tiger King." Yes, that one. Tami Springer, of Osceola, manages the website store for Joe Exotic and is his executive assistant and power or attorney. “No one believes me. They think I’m crazy,” she said. It all started when she began to write to him.

The full name of the series is “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” That says a lot right there. Murder and mayhem always lead to big issues.

Mr. Exotic’s real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage. He has a blond mullet and speaks his mind, according to Tami. Very blunt. You may know of him if you have Netflix or if you came out from the basement in the last two years. He owned the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. The park is now closed.

“Tiger King” was a success for Netflix. It premiered on March 20, 2020, just as everyone was staying home to avoid COVID. It was wildly successful. On the other side of that, it did receive negative remarks from animal activists. He did have a lot of big cats there. It was estimated at more than 200.

For the Netflix-challenged, Joe had an ongoing battle with Carole Baskin. She runs another exotic park in Florida, Big Cat Rescue, and believed Joe was abusing the big cats. Carole and Joe didn’t get along too well going back to 2005.

It got ugly at times, and costly. He was convicted of attempted murder (murder for hire of Baskin) and wild life offenses. He also was ordered to pay Carole for trademark infringements regarding their two different animal parks. He also has other big legal fees.

Don’t worry, Carole is all right. She even was on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2020. She lasted there for three weeks.

On the other hand, Joe is currently in prison in North Carolina and his being treated for prostate cancer. He will be having a resentencing hearing in Oklahoma on Jan. 28. The judge made a mistake in calculation of the prison time.

Joe’s attorney also will be asking for a new trial based on witnesses who now claim they lied in statements and in court. That gets everyone up to date on Joe.

Now back to Tami. Like everyone else with Netflix, she watched the documentary. Her daughter suggested it to her in 2020. From there, she wrote to his fan page. He then wrote back. There were more exchanges of notes and email and phone calls. She has not met him in person, but she does talk to him daily.

Tami said he is a kind man, but he does speak his mind. He has his friends and foes from his time with the animal park. He has fired people he didn’t trust anymore. “He doesn’t trust a lot of people.”

He trusts her. She even worked on getting a pardon for Joe from the last president. That didn’t work.

Still in prison, he asked her to set up a website and sell his merchandise. With some Exotic money, she set up a website and worked with a local designer to create some goods. That was February 2021. The site is There is a wide range of shirts and hoodies, facemasks and skin care. She receives a percentage of each sale.

She does have a full time job.

Joe gave Tami power of attorney after not being happy with the last person who had that job.

Tami said she knows he can be off-putting. “He is blunt, but that makes him popular.” Her job is to improve his image and to see him out of prison. “He is very normal and he has a good heart. He has his causes and he makes donations. On Christmas, he cried on the phone.”

She has gotten mixed reviews from friends and relatives about the business relationship.

“Never in my life did I think this would happen,” she said. She never expected to get an answer when she first wrote. She contends she has a loyal friend in Joe and she is loyal to him. “He wants me to run the website when he gets out of prison.”

We will all be waiting to hear about the hearing in January and filing for a new trial. Get the popcorn out for the next edition of Joe Exotic’s life.

This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Osceola woman works to help 'Tiger King' subject Joe Exotic.

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