After nearly a decade behind bars, the Juice is finally loose.
After serving more than nine years for a Las Vegas kidnapping and armed robbery, OJ Simpson walked out of a Nevada prison early Sunday to start a new life as a parolee, CNN reported. Earlier this week it had been reported that the former NFL and television star who became the focus of the “trial of the century” after the double-homicide of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her companion Ron Goldman, could be released as soon as Monday.
Simpson left High Desert State Prison, located near Las Vegas, Nevada, shortly after midnight local time, and was picked up by an unidentified friend, according to Brooke Keast, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections.
"I told him, 'Don't come back,' and he responded, 'I don't intend to,' " Keast said. "He was upbeat, personable and seemed happy to get on with his life."
Keast added that they released Simpson in the middle of the night to help him avoid the paparazzi.
"Our biggest concern was our safety and the public's safety and not wanting anybody, paparazzi, to follow him," Keast said. "He left through a big blue door through the front gatehouse and exited quietly. He looked down because he didn't want to be photographed."
As the New York Post reported yesterday, even before leaving prison, Simpson put the squeeze on television networks, asking for millions of dollars for an exclusive interview.
“He’s not talking for free,” a longtime confidant told The Post. “It has to be the big one because he’s only going to do it one time and it has to be worth his while.”
What exactly would “the big one” look like? Simpson is set to ask for $3 million to $5 million to sit down with the likes of NBC’s Matt Lauer, Megyn Kelly or Lester Holt; ABC’s Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan; or CBS’ newest “60 Minutes” correspondent Oprah Winfrey.
According to NYP, Simpson’s team has reached out to several outlets to gauge their interest. It’s not known if the interest is mutual.
While the major networks maintain that they don’t pay for interviews, it’s an open industry secret that popular shows like Good Morning America, Today and others pay big bucks to “license images and video.”
“They pay and he’s got photos from jail with his family and friends; he’s got some other stuff, too, that people have never seen before and this could be a major deal for any network, any show,” the source said.
Simpson was memorably granted parole in July where he maintained that the armed robbery charges that initially landed him in prison were the result of a misunderstanding between himself and his victim, whom he said later apologized to Simpson for taking sports memorabilia belonging to the former NFL star.
The Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners voted unanimously to release Simpson after he had served nine years of a 33-year sentence.
Before his release, prison officials did an inventory of what he wanted to take with him or leave behind. He walked out of prison with paperwork and "three or four boxes about the size of a microwave," according to Keast.
Inside the boxes were items such as a hot plate, clothing and shower shoes, she said.
Simpson also met with one person who'll become a fixture in his after-prison life: His parole officer, CNN reported.
"They went over what he needs for parole and where he needs to check in, what he should do to get a driver's license, et cetera [and] instructions on what to do once he's out there," Keast said.
Now that he's out of prison, those who know him are not expecting him to become a recluse.
"He's not going to hide," said longtime friend Tom Scotto, who attended Simpson's parole hearing this summer.
Simpson eventually plans to move to Florida. But for now, he'll live in a gated residence with unspecified friends in a wealthy Las Vegas suburb.