“Tiger King” star Carole Baskin is being sued for defamation by the family of her missing husband, Don Lewis.
Lewis’ daughters as well as Lewis’ former executive assistant claim that Baskin was “complicit with jokes” about her former husband’s death on Dancing With the Stars when judges name-dropped a viral TikTok video showcasing the unproved conspiracy theory that Baskin “Killed her husband, wacked him”
The story of Lewis’ disappearance was featured in the Netflix docuseries, as Joe Exotic alleged that Baskin killed her husband, a claim she has vehemently denied.
The new lawsuit reportedly goes on to claim that Baskin should have intervened when “DWTS” judge Bruno Tonioli joked that she “didn’t quite kill the paso doble, it was kind of sedated.” The family also takes issue with Baskin quipping about how she was “ready to kill it next week” in an interview with “Good Morning America.”
The court docs also state that Baskin has been uploading and publishing new information about her relationship with Lewis in videos and diary entries which she claims are from the past.
Jon Phillips, the Lewis family’s attorney, told Entertainment Tonight Tuesday that Baskin has been down this legal road before. The family filed a lawsuit for defamation and various breaches as Baskin had settled a libel and slander claim from McQueen in 1998, paying $50,000.
“These exact same false statements, and additional ones, are being made again in 2020. It is malicious. Making matters worse, Howard Baskin is making these same statements publicly, as is Big Cat Rescue. As such, they have been added as Defendants.”
During a commercial break in the DWTS premiere last week, a spot aired in local Florida markets that brought up allegations regarding the 1997 disappearance of Baskin’s second husband.
Baskin released a statement last Friday, saying it would be a “huge relief” if her missing former husband were to be found thanks to a commercial funded by the Lewis family, which aired during her “Dancing With the Stars” debut.
“I believe their actions are just a publicity stunt, but if it helps us find Don, then that will be a huge relief,” she wrote in an email to CNN.
Phillips also called out the DWTS producers and judges for making jokes about the situation.
“Dancing with the Stars producers, you think it’s funny to say ‘she killed it’ and to use part of that TikTok rhyme that is derogatory to Carole in in the judging, but let’s stop and realize that there is an actual death involved here and be serious and maybe somebody will come forward,” he expressed. “If not, at least people today will be talking about Don Lewis and not just Carole Baskin.”
The big-cat advocate, famous for her “Hey, all you cool cats and kittens!” catchphrase, garnered international notoriety when Netflix’s hit docuseries premiered in March. The true-crime journey into the world of feline wildlife held in captivity and bred for profit told the story of Baskin’s competitor, Joe Exotic, a k a 57-year-old Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who is currently serving a 22-year sentence in prison for hiring a hitman to kill Baskin.