Family of Carole Baskin's missing husband airs commercial during her 'DWTS' debut

Don Lewis' family has hired a lawyer and is offering $100,000 in exchange for information to help solve the case.
Baskin in a promotional image for "Dancing with the Stars."
Baskin in a promotional image for "Dancing with the Stars."Dancing with the Stars / ABC

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By Samantha Kubota

Carole Baskin made her “Dancing with the Stars” debut on Monday night’s premiere and stuck with the tiger theme as the family of her second husband, Don Lewis, ran a commercial asking for information surrounding his disappearance.

Baskin, who runs Florida's Big Cat Rescue and was one of the featured characters in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King,” danced to “Eye of the Tiger” with her pro partner Pasha Pashkov.

The rivalry between Baskin and Joseph Allen Malonado-Passage — aka “Joe Exotic” — was the main storyline in “Tiger King.”

Maldonado-Passage frequently accused her of murdering her first husband and feeding him to her tigers, while she countered with accusations that he was abusing his animals. Maldonado-Passage is serving a 22-year prison sentence after being convicted on two counts of murder-for-hire last year for paying $3,000 to a hit man to kill Baskin.

The family of her first husband, Don Lewis, ran a commercial during the “DWTS” premiere in several TV markets. They have hired a lawyer and are offering $100,000 in exchange for information to help solve the case.

Lewis vanished a day before a scheduled trip to Costa Rica and was never found. He was declared legally dead in 2002. He and Baskin started the animal sanctuary that later became Big Cat Rescue Corp. in Tampa, Florida. Baskin has repeatedly denied any involvement with Lewis' disappearance.

Baskin appeared in a hot pink and tiger-print dress on Monday night's premiere.

“I have absolutely zero dance experience,” she said in a video. “I’ve been practicing, practicing, practicing.”

She and Pashkov finished in last place for the evening. Nelly, Justina Machado, AJ McLean, Monica Aldama, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Johnny Weir, Skai Jackson, Nev Schulman, Charles Oakley, Anne Heche, Jeannie Mai and Chrishell Stause rounded out this season's cast.

However brief her appearance, Baskin did catch the attention of many people online.

"Who had Carole Baskin dancing to Eye of the Tiger on Dancing with the Stars on their 2020 Bingo card?" @DJM5226 posted.

"Carole Baskin is quite literally 2020 as a person," @reallycheyenne1 posted.

CORRECTION (Sept. 15, 2020, 7:00 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the relationship between Carole Baskin and Don Lewis. Lewis was her second husband, not her first.