The moment was almost immediately iconic and viewers of the hit Netflix true crime docuseries Tiger King have made a fascinating connection between that appearance and the series: Big cat trainer and apparent polygamist Bhagavan "Doc" Antle appeared in both.
Antle, owner of Myrtle Beach Safari, is one of the many real people that make Tiger King feel like redneck noir crime fiction. In the series the camera trains its eye on his unusual lifestyle at one point, including his predilection for surrounding himself with attractive young women.
These days he's a burly, white-haired, middle-aged exotic animal wrangler, but back when he made a brief appearance wrangling a tiger behind Britney on the stage at the VMAs, he was a trimmer guy with long, dark hair clad in black clothing. In fact, if you didn't look close you might be forgiven for mistaking him for rocker Glenn Danzig.
To erase any doubt that it was indeed Antle on stage, someone posted a clear pic on Twitter of the trainer with Spears in the foreground.
There's even a video.
Let's not blame the pop star, though. Like she asked in her other hit, "...Baby One More Time," how was she supposed to know that something wasn't right here?
A separate Twitter user spotted a photo of Spears in the audience at what may have been a different show beside yet another familiar face from Tiger King: Carole Baskin, the animal rights advocate who was the subject of the murder plot that put the King himself, Joe Exotic, in prison for 22 years.
We're not so sure it's really Baskin but can understand why others might think so.
As for Baskin, fans of Tiger King have found her just as fascinating as everyone else in the series, and despite her nominally being the protagonist—she was the one subject to a murder plot—just as suspicious.
Carole Baskin's millionaire husband Don vanished in the late 1990s, and prior to hatching his own murder plot against Baskin, Joe Exotic (aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage) raised somewhat plausible suspicions about the man's fate. One version of a heavily shared meme, this time tweeted by actor Jerry O'Connell, says it all.
In fact, Baskin may soon be under investigation related to her husband's disappearance again, thanks to Tiger King.
Doc Antle may have once shared the stage with Britney Spears—but Joe Exotic could have the last laugh after all, in the end.
If this is still all a mystery, try to put the pieces together by streaming Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness on Netflix.