Published on May 2nd, 2020 | by Percy Crawford


Tiger King’s John Finlay Determined to Use Exposure to Help Others

The “Tiger King” is one of Netflix’s most successful series! John Finlay tells his story.  

Although John Finlay disagrees with the way he was portrayed on Netflix’s, “Tiger King,” he has no regrets about participating in the docuseries. Instead, he’s choosing to use his platform to help others and continue his path towards becoming a better man. During the show, his addiction was one of the things highlighted, since John has been clean for 6-years, he’s currently engaged to longtime girlfriend, Stormey who has helped guide him to becoming a better person and he works with various charities. He is also taking part in motivational speaking. Speaking to college students about decision making, addiction and other topics that college students are faced with on a daily basis. Turning a negative into a positive is the goal and “Gator” is on the right path to doing just that. Fighting the good fight.

During my recent conversation with, John Finlay, we discuss his role on, “Tiger King,” his desire to help others and various other topics.

How is everything going?

John Finlay: It’s going pretty good.

I understand editing and things like that. when you had the opportunity to watch Netflix’s version of, “Tiger King,” did it come how you sensed it would?

John Finlay: That was way off from what I thought it was going to be about.

What was your expectation?

John Finlay: You know, I thought it was going to be about Joe and the park. I thought it would be more about what he done in his life. I didn’t really even know that Carole [Baskin] was going to be involved in it. there was just so much that was off the wall about it. I mean, I didn’t even know that Mario was involved in it. I didn’t know Doc was involved in it.

When you were approached about being a part of it, did you do a one-day shoot or was this over a long period of time?

John Finlay: Mine lasted a year. I started filming in September of 2018. That was over 5 or 6 different filming’s with them. I know everybody is talking about me not wearing a shirt, but you know there were a lot of interviews I did with a shirt. The scene where I had the pink gun, I did have a shirt on there. There was an interview where they had asked me a question and I said something. I don’t remember what it was, and I had a hoodie on and a shirt on too.

Do you regret doing the documentary?

John Finlay: It is what it is. But I don’t have any regrets with it because I told my story and they did what they wanted with it. They spun it however they wanted. There are a lot of people out there who send me praise for who I am now. A lot of people can relate to me because they have either had drug problems or relationship problems. Some actual way of relating to me. Everything has been positive, so I can’t have any regrets because of it.

Obviously, the light in which you were shed in on the show is not one you were happy with. How have you gone about restoring your image?

John Finlay: I’ve just been me. I’m not doing anything different. I’m actually trying to help people out and give them a new outlook on life. A lot of people have had a bad hand in life, and they see the bad hand that I’ve been dealt, so I’ve turned my life around. I have been clean for six-years. I’ve had a positive life and that’s brought a lot of good things to me… being engaged is one of the biggest things for me. She’s been the rock and the anchor. She’s actually been a huge inspiration for me.

Did it take you to see yourself on the show to start making those changes or were those changes being made prior to the release of, “Tiger King?”

John Finlay: I started doing that before the docuseries. It didn’t really take effect until I started getting my side of the story out.

Are you still into the large animals or is that something you left in the past as well?

John Finlay: That’s something that will never leave me. I don’t want to possess them because I know it’s really frowned upon. And I know exactly what it takes to take care of one. How much it takes to take care of one. I’m going to stick to crocodilians. That’s my biggest passion. I know exactly what it takes to take care of them. I mean, I don’t currently have any, but that’s still my passion is to be around them.

Obviously, people think you’re crazy for wanting to deal with these animals and crocs in particular. Why are you fascinated with interacting with such a large animal that can-do bodily harm?

John Finlay: Getting to be around a prehistoric creature. Who wouldn’t want to play with a dinosaur? I have been doing it for 15-years. It’s a normality for me. It wasn’t really a unique experience, but I would do it again for the rest of my life if I could.

How has things changed for you since, “Tiger King” his Netflix?

John Finlay: Actually, it hasn’t. I live my life day to day. I don’t feed into the hype and all that stuff. I’m just a regular red-blooded working American. I still have a job that I have to do. I get up every morning and go to work. That’s just me.

What would you say is the biggest misperception that people took away from the show?

John Finlay: A lot of people say set, Joe free, but he was judged by the jury of his peers. He’s in there because he did wrong. The other thing is everybody thinks Carole killed her husband. That is yet to be seen because there is no evidence of it. until there is evidence from it, why believe that Carole did it? I think they wanted everyone to think that because it just opens up an investigation again.

There has been talks of a movie or even a follow-up to the documentary. Are you interested in either and have you given thought to who you would like to play you if a movie does materialize?

John Finlay: As far as a movie, yeah, I would be involved in that. But as far as another season or whatever with Netflix, no, I wouldn’t. as far as someone playing me in a movie, Channing Tatum would be my first pick. He’s got a near and dear spot in my heart. Shia LaBeouf would be number two, Tom Hardy would be number three and then Charlie Hunnam would be my last choice.

You have given this some thought.

John Finlay: Yeah, I’ve given it some thought. It’s grown since all of this started, but those 4-people were the top picks.

Is there any advice you would give someone who is approached to do a documentary of this nature?

John Finlay: If you get the chance to do it, they need to hire a lawyer/agent… they need to make sure that the right contracts are done. They need to let it hang out. They don’t need to hide anything because it gives you a sense of freedom when you do it.

You said getting your teeth fixed hurt worse than your 50 tattoos. How so?

John Finlay: I had such an infection in my mouth, when you saw me on the docuseries, my face was swollen because of infection. I didn’t know that I had an infection in my mouth. I didn’t really have a reason to go to a dentist. I decided to get my teeth done when we started talking about a wedding. I told her I wanted to get my teeth fixed before we get married. And within a week of me saying that, she had me a dentist appointment, we went into the office and they evaluated it and pulled about 25 of my teeth. Even after that I had to get my dentures redone twice. It was pretty bad.

That’s how women are, you throw an idea out there and next thing you know you’re in a dentist chair. My wife is like that. I’ll say something in passing and then she’s saying, “Hey, Thursday at 10:00…”

John Finlay: (Laughing)!

Stormey (John’s fiancé): Hey now (laughing).

John… you gotta let me know when I’m on speaker, man (laughing).

John Finlay: (Laughing)!

Before I let you go, are there any direct spinoffs that you’re doing as a result of the, “Tiger King,” or are you just living a regular life at this point?

John Finlay: I have a lot of charity work going on. Between interviews, radio appearances and Cameo’s, I still have other charity work going on. And I have some motivational speaking too. I will be talking to college kids and giving them an aspect of who I actually am. The Trevor Project. I’ve worked directly with The Trevor Project (non-profit suicide prevention group). Just different things to help other people out. I’m not really in this for myself, but mainly to help other people. They can check me out on Instagram and my fan page on Facebook. There’s been a lot of positive feedback on there. Instagram johngatorfinlay… John “Gator” Finlay and Facebook is The Truth About John Finlay.

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