Carole Baskin Tricked Into Giving Her First Interview Since Tiger King

Following the premiere of Netflix's Tiger King in March 2020, Carole Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue and enemy of Joe "Exotic" Maldonado-Passage, became an internet sensation. From Carole's popular catchphrase, "Hey, all you cool cats and kittens," to her penchant for wearing flower crowns and leopard-print everything, she has become a cultural phenomenon seemingly overnight. She even inspired a TikTok dance remix!

As such, many have tried (and failed) to snag a video interview with Carole. However, the animal rights activist didn't participate in any sit-downs after the premiere of the hit Netflix show, preferring to speak out against the docuseries via quotes in the press instead. "I just feel so angry that people have totally missed the point," she told the Tampa Bay Times in April 2020, marking her first print interview after Tiger King hit the streaming service. "And the point is these cubs are being abused and exploited and the public is enabling that." Echoing that sentiment, Carole's husband Howard Baskin told the Tampa Bay Times, "There's almost no way to describe the intensity of the feeling of betrayal."

Considering Carole has largely remained quiet since the premiere, some fans were understandably surprised when she appeared to give an interview in May 2020 with The Tonight Show's host Jimmy Fallon. The catch? Fallon never actually interviewed Carole, and YouTube pranksters Josh Pieters and Archie Manners had duped her into the chat. 

As for how Pieters and Manners pulled this caper off? We spill the beans below.

How the pranksters tricked Carole Baskin

Josh Pieters and Archie Manners' prank was born when they wondered whether interview guests using Zoom could always see who was interviewing them, as Pieters explained to Insider. "From there came the idea of just playing the talent recordings of their interviewers and seeing if they would notice," he explained.

Next step? The pranksters created a fake production company, Invisible Objects, and reached out to Carole Baskin via email with an interview request. Believing Manners and Pieters were working on behalf of Fallon, Carole agreed to the chat on the condition that they'd only talk about Big Cat Rescue's activism. The YouTubers explained to Carole that she wouldn't be able to see Fallon during the call, which she accepted.

The YouTubers then collected sound clips of all the times Fallon has spoken about cats to simulate a conversation with Carole. And when there wasn't a good clip to use, the guys got creative. "I have Archie on standby who can come in and act as the producer and say, 'Oh, we've got a quick change there, Jimmy's just doing this,' or, 'Jimmy's just doing his makeup,' and then it sort of explains why something sort of went wrong," Pieters explained.

Pieters and Manners' ruse worked, and Carole talked about a variety of topics with "Fallon," including how she's been taking care of her animals amid the coronavirus pandemic. She also asked viewers to "support the Big Cat Public Safety Act," The Hollywood Reporter noted.

Carole Baskin had a 'good laugh' about the prank

So how did Carole Baskin react when she found out she had been hoodwinked by a pair of YouTubers? The answer might wind up surprising fans. "I was suspicious as we were doing it because the questions appeared taped," she explained to CNN. "But had no idea it would turn out to be such a fun prank." She added, "It gave us a very welcome good laugh. I appreciate their cleverness and that they created their video in a way that I don't feel was in any way mean spirited."

Carole also commented on the YouTube video of the prank, sharing an email that she had sent to her husband and daughter after the chat. "Well that was weird," she wrote to her family. "I couldn't see Fallon during the interview, and when they had his voice on the questions they didn't sound like it was specific to the topic. He'd just say things they could have recorded from any other interview; like 'What are you doing during quarantine?'"

She continued, "They did stick to the questions they gave us, so I just can't tell. This whole thing may have been a spoof and they said they won't broadcast till next week, and will let us know before they do, but I'm not holding my breath."

Jonesing for more info about Big Cat Rescue's head honcho? Why not take a look into the untold truth of Carole Baskin's missing husband, Don Lewis.