'I'll take a look': Trump jokingly responds to question about pardoning 'Tiger King' Joe Exotic

Charles Trepany, USA TODAY

A federal pardon for Joe Exotic?

At a White House press conference Wednesday, a reporter asked President Donald Trump a question likely on the mind of many Netflix fans: What are his thoughts on pardoning the "Tiger King" the star?

Exotic, real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, is the subject of the popular docu-series that garnered more than 34 million viewers within the first 10 days of its March 20 release, according to Nielsen. In 2018, he was convicted of attempted murder for hire and a slew of wildlife violations including killing five tigers. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. 

The question about a potential pardon came courtesy of New York Post reporter Steven Nelson.

"One of the biggest rating hits of the coronavirus, aside from these briefings, has been a show on Netflix called 'Tiger King,'" he said. "The man who's the star of this is a former zoo owner who is serving a 22-year prison sentence. He's asking you for a pardon, saying he was unfairly convicted."

Nelson also brought up that Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., "jokingly said he was going to advocate" for the pardon.

"I was wondering if you've seen the show and if you have any thoughts on pardoning Joe Exotic," Nelson continued.

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The president cracked a smile.

"Which son? Must be Don," Trump said. "I had a feeling it was Don. Is that what he said? I don't know. I know nothing about it. He has 22 years for what? What did he do?"

Nelson then explained the premise of the series, including the charges against Exotic.

"Do you think he did do it? Are you on his side? Are you recommending a pardon?" Trump replied. "As a reporter you're not allowed to do that, you'd be criticized."

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The president then turned to an off-screen reporter, identified by CSPAN as CNN's Jim Acosta.

"Would you recommend a pardon?" Trump asked.

"I'm not weighing in on 'Tiger King,'" Acosta replied.

"I don't think you would," said Trump. "I'll take a look."

The seven-episode series (now streaming) explores the life of Exotic (born Joseph Schreibvogel), a man with an affinity for big cats, blonde mullets, guns and explosives. 

"Tiger King" examines Exotic's life at Oklahoma's Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (referred to as the G.W. Zoo) and his hatred for Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. Exotic deemed Baskin a threat to his livelihood through her advocacy of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which aims to abolish ownership of big cats as pets and the practice of cub petting. 

According to the data company Nielson, the show garnered over 34.3 million viewers within the first 10 days of its release on March 20.

Contributing: Erin Jensen

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump pardon for 'Tiger King' Joe Exotic? President jokes he'll 'take a look'