There were a lot of wild and crazy characters we were introduced to in the Netflix series Tiger King. But one of the many moments that lended an air of credibility to Joe Exotic early on in the series was a cameo with NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal.
In one episode, Shaq is seen touring Joe Exotic's G.W. Zoo and giving the park's owner a shoutout on social media. Naturally, people who oppose G.W. Zoo have been eager to get Shaq's reaction of him seemingly endorsing the controversial tiger exhibition.
In a recent of episode of The Big Podcast With Shaq, the NBA legend gave his side of the story. He explained that his initial visit to G.W. Zoo was an impromptu visit during a bus ride, and that's where he first met Joe Exotic.
Afterwards, he donated money to the exhibit and visited a few more times. However, when he first learned of some of the harm that was befalling the tigers at G.W. Zoo, he promptly stopped supporting it.
But Shaq made it clear that he does not know Joe Exotic, does not consider him a friend, and does not condone what he did.
"I was just a visitor," Shaq said. "I met this guy --[he 's] not my friend. Don't know him. Never had any business dealings with him. I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”
Even though Shaq called Joe Exotic his friend in various videos at G.W. Zoo, it's pretty easy to call someone you just met or only know from a handful of visits a "friend."
Considering that his visits to the exhibit were over five years ago, Shaq probably deserves the benefit of the doubt.