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Exotic vs. Travis (2023): The Dramatic Battle for the Tiger King Title

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Florida State University (FSU) football has been on a roll this season, especially against teams with a certain jungle animal as their mascot. The season opened in neutral territory against the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers. The game ended in an amazing win for the Seminoles with a final score of 45 to LSU’s 24. This past weekend, FSU defeated yet another school with a tiger mascot, sneaking in a 31 to 24-point win to Clemson University in overtime.

Naturally, fans of Florida State football have been having the time of our lives after defeating a Top 5 team and our ACC rival just four weeks into the season. A lot of the program’s success is attributed to the team’s quarterback, senior Jordan Travis. Travis has been having an amazing season and is a top contender for the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season. In the game against Clemson, Travis became the title holder for the quarterback with the most touchdowns in FSU program history with 82 touchdowns. The fans have been praising the ground Travis walks on, which comedically enough, has caused some serious drama.

After the game against Clemson, fans dubbed the QB “Jordan Travis Tiger King,” to which Travis and his team jumped on for some marketing opportunities. Travis commemorated his win by releasing a shirt that reads “Jordan Travis College King 2.0 WTH” and depicts himself sitting on a throne above a tiger with accents of LSU and Clemson school colors. The shirt is selling for $31.24, the final score of the Clemson game. 

However, the seemingly harmless design caught the attention of the original Tiger King and convicted felon, Joe Exotic. Born Joseph Maldonado, Exotic created a fame empire through his work with a tiger rescue and sanctuary, dubbing himself “The Tiger King” in his classic over-the-top fashion. Despite currently serving a 22-year prison sentence, Exotic was able to express his grievances against his new Tiger King competitor.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, Barstool FSU posted a conversation they had with Exotic over Instagram about Travis being the new Tiger King. The conversation included lots of hilarious taunting on FSU Barstool’s end towards Exotic, who denied Travis’s new title, deeming himself the one and only Tiger King.

On Sunday, Sept. 24, Joe Exotic posted an official reply to the rumors, condemning Jordan Travis’s declaration as Tiger King and even threatening to sue him over the trademark. 

So, what does all this really mean? (Take note, I am no legal expert; this is just my opinion on the matter.) I personally think that Exotic has no grounds to sue Travis over the trademark, as Travis has never officially referred to himself as the “Tiger King,” just as the “College King”. This seems to me like a man who is bored in prison and seeking attention. The Netflix series Tiger King came out about three years ago, so Exotic is now looking to regain popularity ahead of his 2024 presidential campaign. Exotic also seems to be so bitter that on Sept. 25, he posted that if he could give anyone the Tiger King title, it would be the University of Florida’s quarterback, Graham Mertz.

What do you think about all this? Do we think a lawsuit will go anywhere? With a character like Joe Exotic, there’s really no telling, but all I have to say is Go Noles!

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Michaela Galligan is a second-year student at Florida State University originally from Tampa, FL. She is studying political science and editing, writing, & media studies with a minor in communications and hopes to one day enter the field of political journalism and reporting. She is passionate about politics, football, music, traveling, and all things FSU.