AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool
AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool
A jury has awarded former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) a whopping $115 million in his legal case against Gawker Media today, less than six hours after they began deliberations. Hogan sued the media company for $100 million back in 2012, accusing the website of invasion of privacy and other torts for posting 101 seconds of the tape featuring the wrestling icon and his ex Heather Clem, also the ex-wife of radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge.
"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," Hogan's team tells E! News.
Thank you God for justice,only love 4Life. HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 19, 2016
Told ya I was gonna slam another giant HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 19, 2016
According to CNN, the jury awarded Hogan $55 million for economic injuries and $60 million for emotional distress. The jury will reconvene next week to consider punitive damages on top of the $115 million already awarded.
"In its core this case has never, ever, ever been about anything more that Gawker took a secretly recorded sex tape of my client in a private bedroom performing a private act and put it on the internet," Hogan's attorney Kenneth Turkel reportedly told the jury.
Following the jury's decision, Gawker founder Nick Denton released the following statement on Twitter:
Given key evidence and the most important witness were both withheld from this jury, we all knew… pic.twitter.com/AltYIYnFUC— Nick Denton (@nicknotned) March 18, 2016
The sexual clip in question was never showed during the two-week trial, and Gawker attorney Michael Sullivan told the jury that was, "Because that video does not show all that much. The video that Gawker posted is not like a real celebrity sex tape."
According to reports, previously sealed documents were made public by the trial judge Pamela Campbell last week and revealed that there are three video recordings showing Hogan having sex with Heather Clem. On at least one of the recordings, Bollea can be heard making racially offensive comments.
The FBI began investigating the recordings when an attorney in California contacted Hogan to try to broker a deal to sell him the recordings. Hogan was eventually fired by the WWE when news of the racially offensive comments leaked out.
When his termination was made public, Hogan issued his own apology. "Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it," he told E! News last year.
"This not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs."
—Reporting by Holly Passalaqua