The untold truth of Joe Exotic's campaign manager Joshua Dial

The Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is full of flashy and larger-than-life characters. The documentary centers around Joe Exotic, a self-proclaimed "gun-toting gay redneck" who owns hundreds of big cats, and his archnemesis Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist whose ex-husband mysteriously disappeared. Also featured is fellow tiger wrangler Doc Antle with his harem of wives, Jeff Lowe the swinger extraordinaire, Allen Glover the alleged hitman, and so many others.

Then there's Joe Exotic's campaign manager, Joshua Dial. Dial used to work as a manager at Walmart before being hired to manage Joe's presidential campaign in 2016. He's widely regarded as the most normal person on the series, especially in comparison to the rest of the cast. As one person put it on Twitter: "It's telling that the millennial, Libertarian, gun-salesperson-turned-campaign-manager is BY FAR the most sane and reasonable person in Tiger King."

As campaign manager, Dial became unexpectedly wrapped up in Joe Exotic's controversial shenanigans. In his first appearance in Tiger King, he calls it "the worst experience of my life." The terribleness peaked when Dial bore witness to a traumatic incident involving Joe's husband, Travis Maldonado

Clearly, Dial has been through a lot, and thanks to the popular Netflix series, it's all on national TV now. Here's everything you've been wondering about Joshua Dial's life pre- and post-Tiger King.

Joshua Dial's 'dream job' turned into a nightmare

Back in 2016, Joshua Dial was working as a manager in the gun and ammo section of a Walmart in Oklahoma. That's where he met Joe Exotic, a frequent customer at the time. "He would come in and buy bullets like every day," Dial said in the Netflix docuseries. Journalist Robert Moor, who made a podcast about Joe Exotic before Tiger King debuted, says Dial originally approached Joe because he admired the zoo owner for being the only openly gay person in the area.

When Joe Exotic decided to run for president, he enlisted Dial to be his campaign manager. Dial had recently gotten a degree in political science, and being a campaign manager was his "dream job." He accepted the gig, despite his reservations about Joe. "I already knew he was bats**t crazy from our conversations at Walmart," he said. Dial began by handing out bumper stickers for Joe's presidential campaign and eventually ran Joe's subsequent bid for Oklahoma governor in 2017, according to the Express

But one day, sitting in the office at Joe's roadside zoo, Dial experienced the unfathomable. He was the sole witness to the death of Joe's husband, Travis Maldonado, who reportedly accidentally shot himself, as viewers saw in Tiger King. The traumatic incident almost prompted Dial to leave the campaign, but he decided to stay on because Joe was grieving. Dial resigned in June 2018 (via Express).

Joshua Dial quit politics after Joe Exotic's campaign

In June 2019, Joshua Dial reflected on his experience as campaign manager for Joe Exotic in a Facebook post, per the Express. He explained that, after witnessing Travis Maldonado's death, "it's understating the matter by saying it was a rough campaign to work." He added, "In the past year, I've been doing some political soul-searching."

In an interview with Oxygen, Dial explained that he has quit politics and ruled out the possibility of working on further campaigns. "I knew Joe's reputation when I went to work for him," Dial said. "What I didn't know was how much it would take out of me. I was prepared to take heat from all sides for Joe; it would take an exceptional candidate for me to ever want to do it again."

Still, he remains interested in politics and says he met a lot of "amazing people" in the Libertarian party during Joe's campaign. He has since shifted to the Democratic party and is involved with gay rights in Oklahoma, according to TV Insider

Joshua Dial says he has 'tried to move on'

Joshua Dial told Oxygen that he has tried to put his experiences with Joe Exotic's zoo behind him. He still lives in Oklahoma but doesn't keep in touch with anyone from the series. He's now engaged to be married. 

"I have tried to move on, and I have been successful so far. I was given a new life and a second chance when I met my fiancé; I have no desire to bring any of that pain into my life," Dial told Oxygen.

However, those past experiences still affect his life. In addition to quitting politics, Dial has a hard time doing office work because of the trauma of witnessing Travis Maldonado's death in the office at the zoo. "I have a hard time sitting in offices now," he said. "So I really don't know which line of work I'd like to go in." Oxygen reported that Dial "respectfully declined" to say where he currently works.

As if moving on from such a horrific experience wasn't hard enough, the CCTV footage of Dial watching Maldonado's death is included in the Netflix series Tiger King, which has now been seen by millions.

Joshua Dial hasn't seen Tiger King

Joshua Dial hasn't watched Tiger King, according to his Oxygen interview. He said he doesn't want to "re-traumatize" himself with Travis Maldonado's death, which sounds like a healthy decision. "One day I will watch it, though," he said.

Even though Dial hasn't watched the docuseries, the show has made him famous. Tiger King quickly shot to the number one spot on Netflix and stayed there for a record-breaking amount of time (via The Wrap). Ironically, the added spotlight may help Dial finally get some support. According to podcasters Kris and Jess, who interviewed Dial in March 2020, Dial was never able to receive counseling after his experiences with Joe Exotic and the zoo. The podcasters started a GoFundMe to help raise money for Dial's mental health care. "Unfortunately, he can't afford it and doesn't qualify for state insurance," the podcasters wrote on the fundraising page. "He told us he definitely wants help if he's able to get it."

"It wasn't just witnessing the death that was tragic for him, it was the aftermath," they added. "This guy has been through it all."

Certainly, Dial has been through more than anyone should. We hope he gets all the support he needs.