If you’re one of the 10 people who didn’t watch Tiger King and therefore don’t know the epic of Carole Baskin, allow us to fill you in. Baskin runs Big Cat Rescue, a nonprofit based in Florida, that well… “rescues” big cats. Tiger King chronicled the long rivalry between Baskin and Joe Exotic, former owner of a roadside zoo in Oklahoma. Baskin alleged that Exotic abused his animals (he did), and Exotic alleged that Baskin murdered her second husband Don Lewis (jury’s still out on that one). Baskin has adamantly denied the claims, though it’s worth noting that the circumstances around his disappearance are suspicious.
Baskin thought Lewis probably disappeared after leaving the country, but his three adult daughters, his ex-wife, and Joe Exotic all suspected that Baskin killed him, put his body in a meat grinder, and fed him to her cats. Tiger King dedicated an entire episode to the mystery. At 59, Baskin became an unlikely star, turning her larger-than-life persona and the mystery surrounding her husband’s supposed death into a marketing tool for her organization.
Mere months after Tiger King premiered, she was cast on the newest season of Dancing with the Stars, and that’s when the trouble started. Lewis’ family and former secretary filed suit against Baskin for making light of rumors she murdered her late husband on national TV, according to the Daily Mail.
Carole Baskin's stepdaughters want anwsers
On Sept. 22, 2020, the news broke the Carole Baskin’s former stepdaughters and Don Lewis’ former secretary are suing the reality star for defamation, per Entertainment Tonight. Specifically for being “complicit in jokes” about Lewis’ disappearance and presumed death. The documents cited a recent episode of Dancing with the Stars, when the judges made light of a viral TikTok that promotes the conspiracy, as an example (via TMZ).
According to court documents, Baskin did not speak against the allegations when they were brought up on DWTS. The plaintiffs also accused Baskin of making jokes about Lewis’ death when she appeared on Good Morning America and said she’d “really kill [her dance] next week.” Baskin settled a similar libel and slander suit in 1998, paying $50,000 to Lewis’ former secretary, Anne McQueen (per ET).
The Lewis family took things a step further and aired a local ad about Baskin’s supposed involvement in their father’s disappearance during a DWTS commercial break. The ad — which featured Lewis’ three daughters Lynda, Donna, and Gale, and their attorney Jon Phillips — announced a $100,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with information that helps solve the mystery of Lewis’ disappearance.
When asked for comment, Baskin told Entertainment Tonight that she wasn’t surprised by her former stepdaughters. She said, “It’s just been a huge publicity stunt on their part so what more could they possibly do than that?” Look’s like we’ll have to wait and see.
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