Tiger King Transitions to Cryptocurrency, Proceeds Will Go Toward 'Joe Exotic' Defense Fund

"Tiger King" Joe Exotic has jumped into cryptocurrency, announcing that Tiger King crypto coins are now available for purchase on his website.

Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, tweeted on Wednesday that his "official Tiger King coins," named $TKING, will be used to help him "fix children's smiles/faces, fight justice and prison reform, and save animals in the wild."

His website claims that "$TKING will see mainstream marketing exposure like no other coin before it."

The funds from the coins will go toward a defense fund for his legal fees. Maldonado-Passage is serving a 22-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2019 of hiring someone to kill Carole Baskin, his nemesis in the big cat advocate industry.

He is also serving time for 17 federal wildlife violations, which included killing some of the tigers he kept at his Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.

Maldonado-Passage's cryptocurrency announcement comes almost a month after Baskin's own cryptocurrency was released. The big cat advocate launched her digital currency, $CAT, in early May.

Baskin wrote on her website, "Our new $CAT coin is not a currency for investment, but rather is a purr-ency of our fans to show their love for the cats and to reap the benefits of being our most forward thinking partners in creating a world where all wild cats live free."

CNN reported that Big Cat Rescue, Baskin's nonprofit, plans to launch in the coming weeks non-fungible tokens that will allow virtual visits with the cats in her sanctuary.

The story of the Tiger King and the feud between Maldonado-Passage and Baskin drew nationwide fascination in March 2020 when the Netflix documentary Tiger King was released.

Maldonado-Passage's website announcing $TKING said: "We will never let Carole win! Find your inner Tiger as Joe, $TKING, and his legal team stage the comeback of the century! We will land the first tiger on the moon to free Joe! Team Joe for the win!"

After being sentenced, Maldonado-Passage asked for a presidential pardon multiple times, in hopes that President Donald Trump would release him before leaving office in January.

He sent Trump a letter last September that said, "If I have ever looked up to anyone it would be you. Not because I need you to save my life, but because you stand for what you believe no matter what anyone thinks."

When he did not receive the pardon, he tweeted, "I was too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump."

Last week he formally requested another presidential pardon, from President Joe Biden, after saying he is showing signs of cancer.

Maldonado-Passage said he wants the world to help his lawyer, John Phillips, in getting Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland to grant him his pardon "so I can go home and get proper medical care and proper food."

Newsweek reached out to Phillips for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Wild Animal Sanctuary In Colorado Home To
One of the 39 tigers rescued in 2017 from Joe Exotic's G.W. Exotic Animal Park yawns at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, on April 5, Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images