Shaquille O'Neal Explains His WTF Cameo In Netflix's Tiger King

Shaq and Joe in Netflix's Tiger King documentary 2020

Over the past few days, Netlfix’s Tiger King has basically taken over much of the TV conversation, thanks to its cast of exotic characters that include real-life tigers, a mullet-wearing, gun toting zoo owner, a hippie who some speculate may have been involved in her former husband’s disappearance and many more. Oh, and Shaquille O’Neal shows up in Tiger King too. Now, Shaq has spoken out about his cameo and the additional speculation in the Netflix series.

In fact, the longtime TV personality has his own podcast aptly titled “The Big Podcast with Shaq.” In it, Shaquille O’Neal likes to get topical and this week that means talking Tiger King. But first, how is Shaq connected to Joe Exotic and co.?

There will be some very minor spoilers for the Netflix documentary in this piece, so if you haven’t watched the whole thing yet, now may be the time to hop out.

How Shaq Ended Up Appearing In Netflix’s Tiger King

One thing Tiger King does really well is pull footage from a variety of sources. Along with filming and using their own interviews and footage, the creative team of Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin use footage from varying components of social media, including YouTube videos or even social media components on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.

Shaq really comes up a couple of times in Tiger King. There’s a short portion of the documentary that lists the times he popped up at Joe Exotic’s place the G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma. Then, later in Netflix’s Tiger King, there’s a whole mention from the documentary of hope surrounding the idea that Shaquille O'Neal might invest in the zoo.

The two have met one another and Joe Exotic makes mention of Shaq in his documentary.

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Shaq Explains His Real Dealings With Joe Exotic And The G.W. Zoo

In Tiger King, it’s clear that Shaq did go to the G.W. Zoo, but the former NBA player says the other stuff about getting involved in the zoo is hogwash. In addition, on “The Big Podcast,” the player also explained he really only visited the zoo a couple of times, noting,

I forgot what year it was. Anyway, Dallas was playing OKC. Instead of flying back and forth mean and Alex we get on the Shaq bus. On the way we see a sign that says Tiger Sanctuary. So, we go in there and it's a beautiful place and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We went there and dropped some donation for the tiger foods and all that. We took pictures with tigers and went back a couple of times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he's involved with all the stuff and then, actually, I stopped going. But I had no idea all that stuff was going on.

There are a lot of people – albeit mostly not famous people – who show up in Tiger King and seem to be charmed by the prospect of tigers before finding out more about the backstory of the G.W. Zoo. Shaq’s story rings true of how a lot of roadside attractions in the United States inspired visitors to drop in, but he also says he and Joe Exotic aren’t exactly pals.

I was just a visitor. I met this guy. Not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on. People that know me know that I'm righteous. I don't harm tigers. I love tigers. We found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.

So, it sounds like those comments made about Shaq investing are pretty unlikely at this point.

Has Shaq Seen Tiger King?

Yes, so Shaq has been watching Tiger King just like the rest of us plebeians currently living out our days in self-isolation. The podcast host said of the documentary:

It's actually a really good documentary. I binge-watched the documentary. Yes, but you know it’s unfortunate but… there’s no such thing as a bad light. People who know me know I’m righteous. I don’t harm tigers. I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time.

So yes, Shaq has seen Tiger King and has positive thoughts about how the Netflix program turned out, even if it seemingly doesn’t paint him in the best light due to placing him adjacent to the wild characters the documentary follows.

To sum it up, all of that stuff Tiger King speculates about hoping to get Shaquille O’Neal involved with the zoo is just smoke and mirrors, as is so much of what we see in Netflix’s Tiger King. Or as Shaq succinctly puts it:

People gonna make their own opinions, but again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy. Not my friend. Don’t know him. I did not have any business dealing with him and I did not know all that stuff was going on.

You can hear more on Shaq’s musings about life, pop culture and Tiger King on the Big Podcast with Shaq. Or check out Tiger King, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.