"I forgot what year it was, [but] Dallas was playing OKC. Instead of flying back and forth, we get on the Shaq bus. On the way, we see a sign that says 'Tiger Sanctuary,'" he explained at the top of a recent episode of The Big Podcast With Shaq. "We go in there and it's a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe."
While at G.W. Zoo, Shaq says he made a donation toward feeding the tigers and took photos with the tigers. (He also makes an appearance in a 2014 episode of JoeExotic TV.) "We went back a couple times," he said. "And then we found out that he's involved with all the stuff and, actually, I stopped going. I had no idea all that stuff was going on."
"I don't harm tigers. I love tigers," Shaq added. "Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No." As for the extent of his relationship with Joe Exotic, Shaq wants to make clear: "I was just a visitor. 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.”
So Shaq may not be Joe Exotic's friend, but he is Jeff Lowe's friend -- at least, according to Jeff Lowe. The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park Facebook page posted a blurry picture on March 21 -- the day after Tiger King began streaming on Netflix -- of what appears to be a call with Shaq.
"One of the nicest guys in the World," the post is captioned. "Shaq facetime’d a few minutes ago to see how we were doing and if we need anything. We love you too buddy."