What Happened to John Finlay, Joe Exotic's Ex-Husband on 'Tiger King'?

John Finlay, the second husband of Joe Exotic, is coming out of Netflix's 'Tiger King' a likable figure. Fans are dying to know: What happened to him?

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(Image credit: Netflix)

Spoilers for Tiger King aheadJohn Finlay, the second husband of "Joe Exotic" (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage), is a fan favorite on Netflix's Tiger King docuseries, which dropped March 20. In case you're not familiar: The docuseries follows Joe Exotic, who owned a makeshift zoo on his property that included up to 90 tigers and 1,000 animals at one point. Exotic is a compelling character: Openly gay, married to four different people, a candidate for Oklahoma governor and president, convicted and currently serving time for charges of animal abuse and hiring someone to murder an animal rights activist. Finlay, who speaks openly about Exotic and their relationship, was Exotic's second husband—they also brought a third person into the marriage, which I'll get into below—but is no longer married to him. He's coming out of the series as a likable figure, and fans are dying to know: What happened to him?

Who is John Finlay?

Finlay worked at Joe Exotic's zoo, and the two connected romantically in 2003 (Exotic's first husband, Brian Rhyne, died from HIV complications in 2001). They had a complicated relationship, as the show makes clear.

Finlay is missing many of his teeth, likely because, as he admits, he used meth. Also, lots of fans of the show absolutely love how quiet and kind he comes off, which—obviously—runs somewhat counter to Exotic's persona and behavior.

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(Image credit: Netflix)

In terms of their relationship, I'm just gonna quote Newsweek here: 

After numerous attempts to open up their relationship to a third person (as Finlay discusses early in the Netflix documentary), they formed a throuple with another young and troubled worker at the farm, Travis Maldonado. The pair married in 2014, in a ceremony seen in Tiger King (and which can be seen in full on Joe's YouTube page), though Maldonado and Exotic eventually remarried as a twosome when Finlay got a fellow worker at the animal park pregnant and left the marriage.

Here's a still from the wedding:

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(Image credit: Netflix)

Sadly, Maldonado died not long afterwards in a gun accident.

What is Finlay doing now?

Robert Moor, author and podcaster on Joe Exotic, had originally tweeted some good news about Finlay but had to modify it after Finlay asked him to take it down. (I think Finlay objected to the picture of him, not the good news.) Moor had written: "I see a lot of people asking about John, Joe’s ex-husband. He texted me a few months back to let me know he got a new job as a welder. And a whole new set of pearly whites!"

Based on that tiny piece of info, it sounds like he's doing all right. I can't find Finlay on public social media anywhere and he appears to be keeping a low profile—following the docuseries, it appears that he's deliberately staying under the radar—but it seems like a small piece of good news that Finlay is thriving after all of this.

Has Joe Finlay fixed his teeth?

It was impossible to watch Finlay's interviews in Tiger King and not notice his teeth, many of which were missing, presumably as a result of Finlay's use of methamphetamines. 

Since Tiger King premiered, photos of Finlay's new and improved smile have been going viral. According to TMZ, Finlay actually had his teeth redone in a single session in July 2019 and claims that, although the Tiger King producers had footage of him filmed after his dental work was complete, they chose not to use it. 

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(Image credit: Facebook)

"Yes I have my teeth fixed," Finlay wrote on Facebook, according to Us Weekly. "The producers of the Netflix series had video and pictures of this, but chose not to show it."

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Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.