EXCLUSIVE: Hulk Hogan Breaks Down Crying, Says Sex Tape Verdict 'Wasn't Strong Enough'
By Antoinette Bueno
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It's been an emotional week for Hulk Hogan, to say the least.
ET sat down with 62-year-old Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, on Wednesday, when he talked about the stunning $115 million in damages he was awarded from Gawker Media last Friday, after filing a suit three years ago against the site for publishing a portion of a sex tape featuring the pro wrestler. On Monday, a Florida jury awarded him an additional $25 million in punitive damages.
But according to Hogan, the verdict isn't enough.
"I thought it was, but now I'm starting to think that if Gawker is going to continue with this type of behavior, the verdict wasn't strong enough, because they're continuing on," Hogan exclusively tells ET's Jennifer Peros. "They even told the judge, 'We get it, please, no, stop, we understand,' but, that was a lie because they're still out there doing it as of today."
"It's just smoke and mirrors with them," he continues. "For us, it's never been what [Gawker Media founder] Nick Denton claims this trial is about. It's not about the First Amendment, it's about privacy."
Despite their tense court battle, Hogan says he is "praying" for Gawker Media.
"I've been praying for Gawker nonstop," Hogan shares. "That this will be a deterrent, that Nick Denton will take all these young writers and journalists that have all this talent, and teach them to do the right thing to try to help people, instead of trying to destroy lives."
Hogan calls the sex tape saga the hardest thing he's ever gone through in his entire life -- and clearly, it's taken its toll. When recalling how he broke the news of the sex tape's existence to his wife, Jennifer, and his two kids, 27-year-old Brooke and 25-year-old Nick, Hogan breaks down in tears.
"I had to explain it to [Brooke] and she said, 'Dad, I love you. You made a huge mistake, but do what's right,'" he recalls. "And then Nick was really cool. So once I got those three people behind me, the rest was doing what was right."
Hogan says doing what's right was following through with his lawsuit, even though it would expose his personal life further.
"Everybody deserves a second chance in life, and there's something about telling the truth. You can actually wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, and if I didn't do things this way, I don't know what would've happened to me," he admits. "I've had some low spots before in my life, but this would've been the end all be all for me if I hadn't followed this through, because it was never about the money to me. It was about doing what's right, and making sure that what happened to me didn't happen to someone else who might not have the kids, the family, and the constitution to fight."
Hogan's 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, and requested damages from Gawker for emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
However, Gawker -- who argued 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 -- said they will appeal the decision.
"The enormous size of the verdict is chilling to Gawker Media and other publishers with a tabloid streak, but it is also a flag to higher courts that this case went wildly off the rails," Denton wrote in a Gawker article about the verdict on Tuesday. "Emotion was permitted to trump the law, and key evidence and witnesses were kept from the jury."
Hogan, however, is not worried about any appeals.
"If something happened that the appeal went the wrong way, I have to be very, very happy with the fact that I exposed Gawker, and people now know that these people are not legitimate journalists," he says. "This type of behavior is not acceptable in our society."