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As the hours dwindled on Trump's time in the White House, many thought the outgoing leader was going to offer the Tiger King star a ticket to freedom.
The former zoo owner's legal team was confident he would get what he desired, but Exotic's hopes were dashed when his name didn't appear on a list of 73 names pardoned by Trump.
Speaking out for the first time, Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, expressed his disappointment in not getting the pardon.
"I was too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump," he wrote on Twitter.
"I only mattered to Don Jr. when he needed to make a comment about me to boost his social media post. Boy were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice? His corrupt friends all come first."
Some of the people who were granted clemency include Trump's former advisor Steve Bannon, rapper Lil Wayne and artist Kodak Black.
Exotic was handed a 22-year-prison sentence in January 2020, having been convicted of two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Considering his crimes were so serious and that his case was all everyone could talk about for months, it was surprising that anyone thought he would get freed.
But private investigator Eric Love, who was leading the 57-year-old's case, was near certain Exotic was getting pardoned.
He even rented a stretch limo to pick up the former zoo owner.
He told Metro: "This time tomorrow, we're going to be celebrating. We have good reason to believe it will come through.
"We're confident enough we already have a limousine parked about half a mile from the prison. We are really in action mode right now."
Asked why he was so confident Trump would spend his last day in power pardoning Exotic, Love said: "I think the President has sided with us and I believe it will take most of the limelight away from President-Elect Joe Biden.
"Last night, I shot a congratulatory video thanking Donald Trump so we have it queued up and ready to go.
"As soon as we get the word, we're going to execute that video to the White House and thank them."
What a 180 the last day has been.
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