Tiger King Fans Stunned By John Finlay’s Transformation

by : Cameron Frew on : 13 Apr 2020 09:37
Tiger King Fans Stunned By John Finlay's TransformationTiger King Fans Stunned By John Finlay's TransformationNetflix

The Tiger King and I finally dropped on Netflix, catching up with the docuseries’ alumni in the wake of becoming an international phenomenon. Of all the subjects, John Finlay looks staggeringly different. 


The surprise eighth instalment of the streaming platform’s wacky deep dive wasn’t in the same vein as the previous episodes – it was more of an aftershow special of sorts, with Community‘s Joel McHale interviewing select participants all from the comfort of his home, due to the global outbreak.

There were plenty of bombshells to be had, however, and Finlay, the ex-husband of Joe Exotic, made a huge impression with his amazing transformation.

Throughout the course of the series, Finlay appeared topless. Explaining why to Joel, as he wore a shirt, he said: ‘I got tattoos, why not show them off? It was a little cold but it was fun.’


However, the most noticeable difference is in his teeth, now equipped with a glistening set of gnashers. ‘It took a while to get ’em, but once I actually got ’em it took me a while to get ’em to where I was able to really wear ’em,’ he said. Now, Finlay wears them ‘pretty much all the time’.

In a common trend, alongside Jeff Lowe and Carole Baskin, Finlay wasn’t pleased with how he was portrayed on-screen, commenting that the filmmakers made him out to be some sort of ‘drugged-out hillbilly, and that was not me then. At that time, I was four to five years clean. When my daughter was born I decided to never touch another drug ever again.’

Finlay had been married to Joe – the eccentric, now-imprisoned former owner of GW Exotic Animal Park – alongside the late Travis Maldonado. After leaving that relationship, he got together with a fellow employee at the park.

Tiger King WeddingTiger King WeddingNetflix

They’ve since got engaged and he’s put working with big cats behind him. ‘I want to work with the youth about drugs and abuse, It’s time for me to take a negative and turn it into a positive,’ he said.

Finlay also told Variety:

Anybody can change their life for the better. We can all have better lives if we just apply ourselves to it and have a positive attitude. Nothing is written in stone, ‘You have to be this way or you have to be that way’. We can all change our own lives of how everything should be.


A recurring question posed to the interviewees is who they’d like to play them in the inevitable feature film adaptation. Finlay’s thoughts on the matter are well-documented: ‘Channing Tatum always had a special place in my heart.’ We couldn’t agree more.

All eight episodes of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness are available to stream on Netflix now. 

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Film and TV, John Finlay, Netflix, streaming, The Tiger King and I, Tiger King


  1. Variety

    John Finlay on Why ‘Tiger King’ Didn’t Tell the Whole Story (Exclusive Video)