As people around the world are quarantining in their homes due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the need for a distraction from the horror of the real world is at an all-time high. For many people, that distraction is Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a new mini-series on Netflix that has risen to become the platform’s most viewed show this week.
Everything about Tiger King is certifiably bonkers. The show’s main character is Joe Exotic — an Oklahoma man who runs his own roadside zoo while shooting guns, rocking a mullet, navigating his marriage to two different men, recording his own country music songs and videos, producing a struggling reality show, and allegedly plotting to murder his long-time rival. As if that wasn’t enough, every other character in the show’s orbit is nearly as outrageous as Exotic. The show even features a sports tie-in, albeit a brief and confusing one.
Shaquille O’Neal shows up just 30 minutes into the first episode. O’Neal is shown walking around Exotic’s G.W. Zoo and holding tiger cubs. He gives Exotic a shout-out on TNT’s Inside the NBA during a playoff series between the Thunder and Warriors and says “I got two more tigers.”
O’Neal’s knowledge and passion for exotic animals, particularly tigers, is fairly well known, but his appearance on the series feels even more surprising as the plot eventually dovetails into its most shocking elements. In a podcast appearance earlier this week (around the four-minute mark), O’Neal talks about how he came to visit the zoo and says he stopped going once he found out about the legal trouble Exotic was in.