Inside the throuple relationship of Joe Exotic, Travis Maldonado, and John Finlay
Netflix’s true-crime series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has ensnared much of the nation in its claws. Filled with murder mysteries, cult grooming, rivalry drama, and — the true stars of the show — big cats, the seven-part documentary series earned an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and is already number one on Netflix’s top 10 shows.
Behind the scenes of all the lawsuits, lost wills, and disappearing persons is another underlying and heart-wrenching plot: the love life of Joe Exotic, or Joseph Maldonado-Passage. A gun-slinging, country-singing, spotlight-loving zoo keeper, Exotic is eventually sentenced to 22 years in prison for wildlife violations and partaking in a murder-for-hire plot against rival and activist Carole Baskin. He also wracked up a number of fans, enemies, and lovers thanks to his various hobbies (which included, among other things, running his very own YouTube show).
Among his lovers were two that he simultaneously tied the knot with: Travis Maldonado and John Finlay. At one point, they married to celebrate and solidify their three-way relationship. However, it’s later revealed in the docuseries that Finlay never identified as gay and Maldonado shot himself during an apparent accidental suicide incident.
But there was more to the polygamous relationship than just its tragic ending — in fact, their relationship began to nosedive much before viewers tuned into all the mayhem.
Drugs, domestic violence, and a tragic accident
At one point, the three men found themselves in an unhealthy dynamic. After Joe Exotic’s earlier heartbreak from an ex-husband, he reportedly became attracted to younger, hunkier men like Travis Maldanado. But once the three were married, things took an ugly turn.
Exotic allegedly strung Finlay onto steroids and Finlay called him “manipulative and controlling.” The two even got into a scuffle in August 2014 after Finlay reportedly attacked Exotic, who then required hospitalization after being thrown into a wall. In another questionable decision that he’s since tried to reverse, Finlay got “Privately Owned By Joe Exotic” tattooed on his pelvis.
While Finlay returned from the split as a healthier man, Maldonado was not as lucky — he died after pointing and shooting a gun at himself that he believed was unloaded. Prior to that, he also struggled with illegal substances, including meth. Exotic’s since-deceased partner spiraled deeper into addiction during the course of their relationship, according to PopSugar.
With Exotic behind bars for the foreseeable future and Maldonado having passed, Finlay is the only one that’s seemingly come out of the throuple relatively unscathed. He now lives in Oklahoma, where he settled down with wife Stormey Sanders and works as a welder. He no longer does meth and even got his teeth replaced with a full set of dentures.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA’s 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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