Why did Hulk Hogan sue and online media outlet for $100 million in 2013? Bollea v. Gawker
Former WWE wrestler Hulk Hogan, aka Terry Gene Bollea, has been embroiled in a lawsuit against media outlet Gawker for originally posting a sex tape of him.
In October 2012, the famous media outlet Gawker posted an edited version of a sex tape featuring Hulk Hogan on its website, accompanied by a 1,400–word article about the tape’s contents. In the video, a nude Hogan is shown having sex with Heather Clem, the then-wife of his former friend, radio host Bubba the Love Sponge, whose real name is Todd Clem.
Hogan later sued Bubba and Heather Clem for plotting to record the sex tape without him being aware. Hogan furthermore sued Gawker, its founder Nick Denton and the author of the original post, A.J. Daulerio. Hogan and his lawyers’ team pursued $100 million in damages from Gawker since declaring he was clueless he was being filmed. Gawker said it acquired the video from an anonymous source and, therefore, that it should be protected under the First Amendment.
Soon after filing his suit against the Clems, Hogan reached a $5,000 settlement with Bubba Clem in October 2012.
Hogan’s racial slur
In July 2015, the National Enquirer and RadarOnline leaked racist audio from a separate Hogan sex tape with Heather Clem. Hogan was recorded using the n-word while mentioning his daughter Brooke’s boyfriend. The WWE was then provoked to terminate its contract with the Hall of Famer, completely erasing him from its history.
Hogan took to ABC’s Good Morning America and asked his fans for forgiveness after his banishment from the WWE. He explained that he used the racist insult because he was resentful about a situation between his daughter and her boyfriend.
Gawker lawsuit epilog
Terry Gene Bollea took the stand in March in his invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker, officially maintaining that he is no longer the character he portrayed as Hulk Hogan. A Florida jury led in favor of Hogan, and he was initially awarded $115 million in the lawsuit. The verdict granted him $55 million in economic injuries and $60 million for emotional distress.
Hogan was given an added $25 million in corrective damages following his $115 million lawsuit victory. The ruling made the company accountable for $15 million in punitive impairments, Denton for $10 million, and Daulerio for $100,000.
In addition to Gawker, Hogan was reportedly going after a group of Florida residents for allegedly sending at least one of the sex tape recordings to Gawker. The lawsuit is for undisclosed monetary damages.
The billionaire funding
Forbes Magazine later revealed that Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire, holds the financial backing of Hogan’s lawsuits against Gawker and their owner Denton. Thiel bankrolled the case was justified as “third-party litigation funding,” which is not illegal and is quite common. If the plaintiff wins, it is common to share the third-party portion of the proceeds.
Thiel was named in doing so for Gawker’s involvement in a 2007 article, which disclosed Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and an early Facebook investor, as gay before the Silicon Valley billionaire made his sexuality public.