Hulk Hogan Awarded $115 Million in Sex Tape Lawsuit Against Gawker
By Sophie Schillaci and Rande Iaboni
Hulk Hogan has proven victorious in court, as he's been awarded $115 million in damages from Gawker.
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, filed a suit three years ago after the media site published a portion of a sex tape featuring the pro wrestler.
Following the victory, Hogan’s reps told ET in a statement, "We're exceptionally happy with the verdict. We think it represents a statement as to the public's disgust with the invasion of privacy disguised as journalism. The verdict says no more."
The lawsuit stemmed from an incident in 2006 when, following a divorce from his wife Linda, Hogan had sex with Heather Cole, the wife of his then-best friend, radio personality Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. Hogan testified that the sexual encounter was captured on film without his knowledge.
The video was published online by Gawker in October 2012. Hogan's lawsuit requested damages from the website for emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
Gawker's defense had been that they had the right to publish the video because Hogan had lost any prospect of privacy after openly discussing his sex life during media appearances and that the tape was newsworthy.
Hogan took the stand to testify earlier this month, claiming that on the evening he and Cole had sex, Cole’s husband said he was going to work in his office and handed them both a condom. "It was so weird and so crazy, my gut was telling me that this was off."
The 62-year-old wrestler claimed in his testimony that this prompted him to ask Clem if he was being filmed. Clem allegedly got incredibly angry, shouting, "I would never do that to you. I am your best friend." However, Hogan testified that at the end of the tape, Clem could allegedly be heard saying to his then-wife, "If we ever need to retire, here is our ticket."
In the same testimony, Hogan explained that he found out about the footage in 2012, when he received a call from a media outlet while on a publicity tour for Total Nonstop Action.
"I felt numb," Hogan said on the stand of when he first heard the news. "My family has been through so much. My feeling was, ‘Not again.’ I had just completely cleaned up my life."
In a statement issued to ET shortly after the ruling, Gawker founder Nick Denton implied that the media outlet intends to appeal the court's decision.
"Given key evidence and the most important witness were both improperly withheld from this jury, we all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case," he said. "I want to thank our lawyers for their outstanding work and am confident that we would have prevailed at trial if we had been allowed to present the full case to the jury. That’s why we feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win this case ultimately."
For more on Hogan's testimony, watch the video below.