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Data Study

Most Popular Tiger King Character by US State: Who Love Carole Baskin Most?

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Tiger King was the first big hit of the pandemic. We used survey data to find which character each state obsesses over most.

The first big hit of the COVID-19 pandemic was Tiger King. It took the nation by storm. Critics loved it. Netflix subscribers loved it. Social media loved it. It was impossible to avoid it. In fact, it was so popular that Netflix released an extra episode.

What makes the show so enthralling? Many would say its the wild cast. And not just the star, Joe Exotic. Tiger King is rounded out with a motley crew of intriguing supporting characters.

With that in mind, we got to wondering: what character does each state love the most? Does it vary across the US? To find out, we teamed up with Mindnet Analytics. Using Google Trends data, we were able to determine which Tiger King character each state is most obsessed with.

Most Popular Supporting Cast Members

After an in-depth analysis using Google Trends data, the top-line result was clear: Joe Exotic was the character every single state was most interested in. However, when looking at supporting characters, the results got interesting. Here are some findings that jumped out at us:

  • Doc Antle and Carole Baskin tied for the supporting character the most states were obsessed with, claiming eight states each.
  • States were typically most obsessed with the characters who shared their home. For example, Florida was most interested in Carole, and Doc Antle claimed his home state of South Carolina.
  • James Garretson took third place, with six states being most obsessed with him. This is not surprising since he ends up playing such an important role in the final part of the season.
  • Oklahoma showed the most interest overall in the characters, which isn’t surprising since it’s the main setting for the show. In fact, the Midwest in general has more interest in the characters than the rest of the nation.

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Interest in the Cast of Tiger King

tiger king characters interest

Each State’s Tiger King Character Obsession

AlabamaJames Garretson
AlaskaTravis Maldonado
ArizonaCarole Baskin
ArkansasJohn Finlay
CaliforniaCarole Baskin
ColoradoCarole Baskin
ConnecticutCarole Baskin
DelawareJames Garretson
District of ColumbiaRick Kirkham
FloridaCarole Baskin
GeorgiaCarole Baskin
HawaiiTravis Maldonado
IdahoDoc Antle
IllinoisCarole Baskin
IndianaCarole Baskin
IowaJoshua Dial
KansasErik Cowie
KentuckyRick Kirkham
LouisianaJames Garretson
MaineKelci Saffery
MarylandDoc Antle
MassachusettsDoc Antle
MichiganJeff Lowe
MinnesotaJoshua Dial
MississippiJohn Reinke
MissouriTravis Maldonado
MontanaRick Kirkham
NebraskaAllen Glover
NevadaJeff Lowe
New HampshireMario Tabraue
New JerseyDoc Antle
New MexicoJames Garretson
New YorkDoc Antle
North CarolinaDoc Antle
North DakotaJohn Finlay
OhioDoc Antle
OklahomaJohn Reinke
OregonJames Garretson
PennsylvaniaMario Tabraue
Rhode IslandRick Kirkham
South CarolinaDoc Antle
South DakotaJeff Lowe
TennesseeJoshua Dial
TexasTravis Maldonado
UtahDillon Passage
VermontJeff Lowe
VirginiaJoshua Dial
WashingtonJeff Lowe
West VirginiaDillon Passage
WisconsinJames Garretson
WyomingJohn Finlay

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Interesting Facts About Tiger King

Tiger King

Tiger King was the number one show on Netflix. In the first month of its release, 64 million households viewed it.

The 7-episode (plus one) docuseries focuses on the exotic animal park own by Joseph Maldonado-Passage (Joe Exotic) in Oklahoma. The show has numerous storylines, including Joe Exotic’s park, multiple husbands, and larger-than-life personality.

There’s also his feud with Carole Baskin (owner of a big cat sanctuary), bizarre videos about Baskin’s missing husband, as well as Joe’s failed campaigns for president and governor and his failed country-music career.

15 Facts You May Not Know

If you haven’t watched the series yet, head over to Netflix and watch it now. For Tiger King fans, here are some missing facts that help answer some of the questions the series left us with:

  1. Joe Exotic was Chief of Police in Eastvale, Texas when he was 19 years old.
  2. Kelci Saffey, one of Joe’s employees, lost his hand because he reached into the cage instead of using the provided stick. The guilty tiger was not put down but rather removed from display.
  3. The pink-shirt wedding with three grooms was Joe Exotic’s idea.
  4. Some of the alligators at the Oklahoma park came from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
  5. John Finlay, one of Joe Exotic’s lovers, got his teeth fixed.
  6. John Reinke, former manager of the animal park, actually lost his legs in a bungee-jump accident, not a ziplining accident as stated in the show. He fell 64.99-feet to the ground, landing on a 6-inch metal stake, resulting in 20+ operations.
  7. Shaquille O’Neal is not friends with Joe Exotic. He visited the park but was unaware of what was going on behind the scenes.
  8. The baby cubs visitors paid to pet were taken from their mothers immediately at birth — often getting sick with ringworm and mange from being handled so much.
  9. Joe Exotic only played the role of a country music star. Most of the songs were sung by Vince Johnson and Danny Clinton, with Joe Exotic only singing parts on certain songs.
  10. Joe Exotic’s presidential and gubernatorial bids were publicity stunts. In his bid for Governor of Oklahoma, he got 664 votes. In his presidential bid, he secured 962 votes.
  11. Joe Exotic actually had four husbands. His first husband was J.C. Hartpence, who is in prison for a murder he committed after his divorce from Joe.
  12. Cardi B wants to help get Joe Exotic out of jail and tweeted she was going to start a GoFundMe page to help pay his legal expenses. It’s still to be determined if she’s joking.
  13. Carole Baskin is not a fan of the Tiger King docuseries claiming it’s sole goal is to draw in as many viewers as possible by being salacious and sensational.
  14. Don Lewis, Carole Baskin’s husband, is still missing (since 1997). His disappearance remains a mystery.
  15. Universal Studios is working on a miniseries based on the Joe Exotic podcast that will be produced by Kate McKinnon, Hernan Lopez, and Marshall Lewy.

Too Good to Stop

Tiger King was a phenomenon and Netflix wasted little time capitalizing on it. They released an additional episode just 3 weeks after the series premiered.

Jeff Lowe, one of the most popular supporting cast members, originally shared the news in a video via LA Dodger’s Justin Turner’s Twitter account. In the video, he stated that Netflix was filming at the zoo and that the new episode would be on the following week (which turned out to be correct).

The Netflix show Love is Blind had recently had a reunion episode along with an episode called When They See Us, which was a post-show interview hosted by Oprah Winfrey. This one for Tiger King was hosted by Joel McHale.


First we extracted the list of the 15 main characters from Tiger King from this Cinemaholic article. Since some characters have different variations of their names, such as “Doc Antle” or “Bhagavan Antle,” we used the Google Trends similar queries feature to build a set of name variations for each character.

The data used to determine which character each state is most obsessed with came from Google Trends state search frequencies. For example, if you look at the relative search frequency for “Joe Exotic” across states you see that people in Oklahoma have searched more for this character than the people in any other state. We only counted search frequencies from March 20, 2020 (the premiere of Tiger King) through April 2, 2020, the date of the analysis.

Note: it is not necessarily the character that people in a state searched for more than all other characters. The character they’re “most obsessed with” is the one that they searched for the most compared to other states.

If you somehow missed the Tiger King craze, you can still check it out and see what all the fuss was about. All 8 episodes are streaming on Netflix.

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Page Updates

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Frank Moraes
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By Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is Content Editor at HotDog where he oversees the creation and maintenance of articles. His focus is on sports and the regional programming issues that flummox streamers.

He has led the efforts to create pages that fully address problems fans have watching out-of-market NFL games. And he is responsible for the site's thorough coverage of the regional sports networks that are essential for fans of MLB, NBA, and NHL.

Frank got his PhD in Atmospheric Physics from Oregon Institute of Technology back in 1995. After that, he spent much of that time developing remote sensing technology including streaming video back in the days when most people were using VHS tapes.

Since that time, Frank has become a veteran tech writer who specializes in the nexus of entertainment and technology. It was natural that he gravitated toward the streaming industry. He started streaming early, back in 2007 when Netflix introduced "instant watch." Then Hulu started and he was hooked.

Outside his work life, Frank is a longtime cord-cutter. He streams pretty much everything while his library of thousands of Blu-rays and DVDs collects dust.

Frank currently subscribes to the following streaming services:

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He streams mostly on a Roku-powered TCL TV and a VIZIO with an Amazon 4K Fire TV stick.

Frank also writes about horror and other cult films at Psychotronic Review

Contact Frank with thoughts, questions, and story ideas at [email protected].

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