John Finlay was in a three-way marriage with Joe Exotic. Here's what his life looks like now.

Viewers who tuned into Netflix’s new episode of Tiger King this week, could have been forgiven for wondering who the heck the guy with the beard and sparkly teeth was.

He certainly didn’t look very much like any of the people we’d come to know during our binge of the show’s seven other episodes.

Then host Joel McHale introduced him as John Finlay, the ex-husband of the ‘tiger king’ himself, Joe Exotic.

Watch the trailer for Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness below. Post continues after video.

Video via Netflix

Throughout the docuseries, we saw Finlay – shirtless, most of the time – give interviews about his time living with Exotic at his G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma, his relationship, and how he left to be with a woman.

By the end of the documentary, we saw Finlay cover a tattoo of Exotic’s name on his pelvis.

His portrayal in Tiger King.

In Netflix’s new episode, Finlay told McHale he was unhappy with his portrayal in the docuseries.

“I was portrayed as a drugged-out hillbilly,” Finlay said. “At that time, I was four to five years clean.”

He said similar in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, saying that besides the scene of Finlay covering his tattoo, we didn’t get to learn much about his life since leaving Exotic and G.W. Zoo behind.

“They never showed the real new-and-improved me,” he said.

“I’m waiting to get my story out, to be able to sit down with a producer or a reporter to actually get the whole story out, and to really let the world know what my life was actually like.”

john finlay now
Image: Netflix.

He told Refinery29 he actually did two interviews with Netflix with his new teeth, which he got in June 2019, but they weren't used in the final docuseries.

"Netflix had two interviews where I did have my teeth fixed," Finlay told the publication. "I suppose when you are trying to make a story, you create characters, and perhaps they felt it was best just to keep my 'character' how I used to look."

He criticised the series for creating a fictionalised version of himself.

"In the series, there's a scene where the sheriff is talking about 'meth mouth,' and the next shot is of me with my limited teeth. With that editing, it was all but saying I was a drugged-out hillbilly," he said.

"It is a huge misconception that drugs were the cause of my dental issues. I was four years clean from drugs - something else they left out. I had a genetic issue relating to my teeth and had made several previous attempts to repair them."

joe exotic now
Travis Maldonado, Joe Exotic and John Finlay at their wedding. Image: Netflix.

He said he was disappointed the series focused on the drama, and not on what it was like to be around the animals.

"[I would have shown] more of the positive. They never showed that we helped quite a few people with their last, dying wishes to be able to pet a tiger, pet a bear, pet a wolf. That gave me a different outlook on life, why a lot of people do what they do before they go and where I needed to be," he told Variety.

He said he looked back at his time at the zoo positively, despite everything that happened.

"The animals are what everyone was really there for. It wasn’t the human factors of it. The animals and the experience are what I’ve missed the most."

A new smile.

tiger king new episode
Joe Finlay (and his new teeth!) Image: Netflix.

Physically, Finlay has undergone a major transformation since the scenes we saw in Tiger King.

Most notable is his new smile. For him, getting his dentures to replace his damaged teeth signified the end of one chapter and the start of his next.

"I did this dental transformation as a way of closing a prior chapter of my life, so it also signified my new chapter, the new me," he told Refinery29.


"I am not someone who is very vain or necessarily minds what others look like as I never judge a book by its cover, but for my self-esteem, the new teeth have done wonders."

But while he looks different, he more importantly feels different.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by John "Gator" Finlay (@johngatorfinlay) on

"So while yes I guess I had a 'glow up' (my fiance and manager both told me that is a good thing) with my appearance and teeth, I am more amazed with my mental and emotional transformation to the man I am today," he wrote on Instagram.

"Someone my mama can be proud of. Someone my family and friends can be proud of. Someone my fans can be proud of. And someone that I myself am proud of."

A fiancé and child.

Finlay told Variety he was in a relationship with Exotic, but they were never legally married (despite that joint 2014 wedding ceremony with Travis Maldonado and the pink shirts we saw during the series).

He left the zoo later that year with a fellow ex-zoo staffer with whom he shares a child, and has no interest in talking to Exotic ever again.

Finlay is now with an accountant named Stormey Sanders, who he told People is helping him with his self-esteem.

"My fiancé has been working on it," he says. "I've had a better outlook on life with her. And she's given me definitely a better life since we’ve been together.


"I used to have a lot of pent-up negative thoughts and [a] bad aura about myself. I just quit thinking about the past and the negative stuff that’s happened to me, and now I’m engaged and we’re having a really good life."

Image: Facebook/The Truth About John Finlay.

They had originally planned a summer 2020 wedding, but have had to rethink their plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Finlay has now been sober for six years, during which time he's "been working on find my inner happiness and transformed my way of thinking".

"When my daughter was born, I decided to never touch another drug ever again," he said in the latest Tiger King episode.

What John Finlay wants to do next.

Finlay currently works as a welder, but has said he'd be interested in becoming a motivational speaker to share the dangers of drug use.

"Anybody can change their life for the better," he told Variety.

"Nothing is written in stone, 'You have to be this way or you have to be that way.' We can all change our own lives of how everything should be."

He told Refinery29 "If I can help even one person avoid using drugs and making mistakes, all of this is well worth it".

Read more:

Feature images: Netflix.

00:00 / ???