Tiger King‘s John Finlay is a changed man — and he has some big plans for the future.
After struggling with a meth addiction for several years, Finlay is now clean and sober.
“The [Netflix documentary] made me look like a drugged-out hillbilly,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “But at the time I did that, I was five years clean. I am now six years clean.”
Finlay briefly married Joseph Maldonado-Passage (also known as “Joe Exotic”), the subject of the hit Netflix documentary, in an untraditional three-way wedding in 2014 after meeting him while working at Maldonado-Passage’s zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.
After leaving the relationship — which came shortly following their union — and putting his life working with exotic animals behind him, Finlay has his eyes set on a new venture.
“I want to work with the youth about drugs and abuse,” he says. “It’s time for me to take a negative and turn it into a positive.”
Finlay, who is now happily engaged, says the inspiration to help others comes from his own personal journey of learning to love himself despite his past mistakes.
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“I used to have a lot of pent up negative thoughts and bad aura about myself. I just quit thinking about the past and the negative stuff that’s happened to me,” he says.
And due to the success of Tiger King, he wants to use his newfound platform to help others.
“It’s time to really think about the kids and my future and stuff and use this thing for something good not just to be, ‘Hey, I have a personal gain now. It’s all about me,’ ” he says. “It’s not all about me. It’s about other people too.”
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is streaming now on Netflix.