The “Last Week Tonight” host told Seth Meyers that he saw compelling qualities in the “Tiger King” star for a segment in 2016 ― long before the controversial tiger keeper found fame in the Netflix documentary series. (Watch the clip above.)
In his bit about fringe hopefuls in the 2016 presidential election, Oliver recalled striking gold with Exotic and his campaign commercial.
“We were looking for kind of the craziest third-party candidate, found his ad, and it was like the lowest hanging, juiciest fruit,” Oliver said Monday on “Late Night.” “Almost you think, ‘Could this — could this be real? Mmm, so sweet. So juicy.’”
However, Oliver said his researcher warned him that the zoo seemed “dangerous” and Exotic “started ranting about a woman named Carole.”
That Carole was Carole Baskin, one of the central players in the real-life drama. Exotic is serving a 22-year prison sentence after trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, a wildlife sanctuary owner who criticized his animal-keeping.
“Tiger King” has become a hit for Americans who are sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic. In Monday’s interview with Meyers, Oliver said Exotic is “not the hero America needs, but the hero it deserves right now.” Back in 2016, he called him “truly the candidate you want to sit down and have a beer with.”
Watch the 2016 report below: