“Tiger King” alum Carole Baskin made her “Dancing with the Stars” debut Monday night — and her past was unexpectedly dug up during a break in the show. A commercial asking for information about Baskin’s missing husband, Don Lewis, aired in local Florida markets during the premiere episode. Lewis’ family and their lawyer appeared in the spot.
Lewis, who went missing in 1997, was married to Baskin, who owns a big-cat rescue in Florida. During the 2020 Netflix documentary series “Tiger King,” a rival rescue owner known as Joe Exotic alleged Baskin killed Lewis and even alleged that she put him in a meat grinder and fed him to her big cats. Baskin has denied the allegations, and she was never charged with a crime, but fans of the docuseries glommed on to it. Now, Lewis’ daughters Gale, Lynda and Donna, and his former assistant, Anne McQueen — who all appeared in the docuseries — are speaking out against Baskin again. They appeared in the ad along with the family’s attorney, John M. Phillips.
Don Lewis Family Response to Carole Baskin’s Appearance on Dancing With the Stars by
Law Offices of Phillips & Hunt on
“We miss our dad,” Lynda said in the ad.”We need to know what happened to our father,” Donna said. “Don Lewis mysteriously disappeared in 1997. His family deserves answers. They deserve justice,” Phillips said. “Do you know who did this, or if Carole Baskin was involved?” The family revealed a $100,00 reward for information in connection to Lewis’ disappearance, encouraging viewers to call their tip line. In a YouTube video posted on Monday ahead of the “DWTS” premiere, Phillips revealed the ad would air, calling it a “public service announcement.” The attorney said while Lewis’ story received widespread attention on CBS News’ “48 Hours” and “Tiger King,” “the real question remains.” “Somebody out there knows. We need help. We need help solving this,” Phillips said. “Somebody knows more about Don’s last hours on Earth and we should care about what happened. We all should care and we should all help solve this cold case.” Phillips also held a news conference in Tampa on Monday, announcing an independent investigation into Lewis’ disappearance, the Associated Press reported. He said that on behalf of the Lewis family, he’s filed a lawsuit against Baskin, who was Lewis’ second wife, in an attempt to depose her and get her to speak on the record. Phillips and the family have also paid for Tampa-area billboards asking for information in the case.
Lewis vanished a day before a scheduled trip to Costa Rica and his body was never found. He was declared legally dead in 2002. He and Baskin started the animal sanctuary, which later became Big Cat Rescue Corp. in Tampa, Florida.