For weeks now we have watched former wrestling icon Hulk Hogan try to take down media giant Gawker.com over his private sex tape which they published.
Tens of millions of dollars were on the line, 100 million to be exact.
But by the time the jury made up its mind, not only did they rule against Gawker, they gave Hogan $41M more than he asked for!
A celebrity sex tape?
The man who is known for perfecting professional wrestling’s leg drop and pile driver?
The man who’s known for bragging about his sexual prowess and the size of his manhood?
Yes, that Hulk Hogan.
The jury didn’t take kindly to putting Hogan’s sex moves on display for the world to see.
Don Lemon: “What was the most convincing piece of evidence Kevin?”
Kevin Kennedy: “Well the fact that there was no evidence showing that they gave Gawker the rights to show the video. And that’s really what the crux the decision was about. That’s really what a large part of this case was about. The fact that they didn’t have the permission to show it.”
Gawker, however, claims showing the footage has news value and is protected by the constitution under the 1st Amendment because Hogan made his sex life public by talking about it in interviews.
Nick Denton is the founder of Gawker.
Nick Denton: “He is a massive global celebrity a massive global celebrity who has carefully cultivated an image on talk radio, through his wrestling. And wanted a celebrity’s privilege to control that message. If you’re a free journalist you don’t necessarily always want to go along with a celebrity’s publicity machine.”
Denton says the case wasn’t really about the sex tape.
He says Hogan sued them to prevent from being released another portion of the tape where Hogan can allegedly be heard using the n-word and other racist language.
The WWE ended up cutting ties with Hogan because of those remarks.
After the verdict, Hogan went on TV to defend himself.
Hulk Hogan: “I’ve got nothing but respect for the whole crew that runs the WWE I understand they had to do what was best for business in this case. But at the end of the day, and they know I’m not a racist they’ve known me for 35 years. They know who I am. I made a dumb mistake, said something horrible that I’ll forever have to regret.”
$141M, perhaps the biggest payout, at least that I’m aware of, to anyone for using the n-word.
One juror told me that the use of the n-word is even more proof that Hogan didn’t know he was being taped and therefore earned every cent of the enormous judgment.