×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hulk Hogan Awarded $115 Million in Gawker Sex Tape Lawsuit

A Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan $115 million in his sex tape lawsuit against Gawker Media, stemming from a 2012 blog post.

The outcome comes after two weeks of testimony and six hours of deliberation on Friday.

The jury found that the news outlet violated Hogan’s privacy by posting the tape online, and that Hogan suffered severe emotional distress in the last three years since Gawker published excerpts of a video, which Hogan claimed was secretly recorded, of the former WWE star having sex with the then-wife of his best friend, radio “shock jock” Bubba the Love Sponge. The video was posted five years after it was recorded and was viewed 2.5 million times on the Gawker site.

Hogan cried and hugged attorney David Houston when the verdict was announced.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, was the first to take the witness stand and testified that the publication of the sex tape has “turned my world upside down” and “completely humiliated” him.

Hogan said last week during the trial in St. Petersburg, Fla. that he is “not the same person I was before all this craziness happened.”

“My problem is this whole videotape that you guys put out that lives forever,” Hogan said. “It will be there forever on the Internet.”

Gawker argues that its publication of the footage was protected by the First Amendment.

“I believe in total freedom and information transparency,” said founder Nick Denton in court. “I’m an extremist when it comes to that.”

Denton released a statement on Friday following the ruling.

“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.”

Hogan won $115 million — $60 million for emotional distress and $55 million for economic damages ($15 million more than he had sought) — with the possibility of receiving more as the jury considers punitive damages and other matters.

Legal experts were shocked by the size of the damages.

“It is a staggering verdict to say the least,” said Pierce O’Donnell of Greenberg Glusker. “It is highly likely that the trial judge will reduce the amount of the award, and if the judge does not grant a reduction, it is highly likely that the appellate court will do so.”

He added, “From what I know, [the award] bears no rational relationship to the sexual privacy interest by Hulk Hogan, nor does it bear any relationship to the amount that Gawker reaped from playing the video. This is what we call a runaway jury.”

Bradley Ellis, partner at Sidley & Austin in Los Angeles, said that it is “never good to have a verdict of this magnitude against a media defendant because by its very nature it chills speech, and will only encourage additional lawsuits.

“I think as much as anything, people are genuinely concerned — and perhaps angry — about the erosion of privacy in today’s world, and this case presented the perfect defendant and set of facts for a skilled trial lawyer to use to get a jury very angry.”

More Biz

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    'Leaving Neverland' Lawsuit Proves to Be a Judicial Hot Potato

    The Michael Jackson estate sued HBO last month for airing the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accuses the late King of Pop of serial child sexual abuse. Since then, the case has had a difficult time finding a judge to handle it. Three federal judges have recused themselves in the last week, citing potential financial conflicts [...]

  • Members of the public mourn at

    Guy Oseary’s New Zealand Fundraiser Nears $150,000, Continues Raising Money

    In the wake of the horrific shootings at New Zealand mosques last week that killed some 49 people, Maverick chief Guy Oseary launched a GoFundMe campaign to “support those affected by this tragedy at this very difficult time,” and began it with an $18,000 donation. Boosted by donations from many celebrities — including Amy Schumer, [...]

  • Cesar Sayoc Headshot

    Florida Man Pleads Guilty in CNN Pipe Bomb Case

    A Florida man pleaded guilty Thursday to sending pipe bombs to CNN and prominent critics of President Donald Trump. Cesar Sayoc appeared in federal court in New York, where he pleaded to 65 counts stemming from the mailing of 16 devices. He faces life in prison, plus 120 months, at his sentencing on Sept. 12. [...]

  • Tencent Profits Hit $1 Billion Per

    Tencent Profits Hit $1 Billion per Month as Company Loses Fizz

    Growing regulatory encroachments into its games business, a smaller than expected spin-off for its music division, and a fourth quarter profits drop, pointed to a troubling year for Chinese tech giant Tencent. Its financial results for the full 2018 period, while delivering profits of nearly $1 billion a month, appeared to bear out that thesis. [...]

  • splice

    Splice Raises $57.5 Million in Latest Funding Round

    Splice, a favorite of music creators that allows access to a library of three million rights-cleared sounds, announced today that the company closed a Series C funding round at $57.5 million. That brings Splice’s total amount raised to roughly $102 million since its launch in 2013. It raised a Series B in November of 2017. [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    WGA Leaders to Meet With Showrunners on Agency Packaging Fight (EXCLUSIVE)

    WGA leaders are set to meet Wednesday night with a group of showrunners who are raising concerns about the guild’s handling of negotiations with talent agents over the issue of packaging fees and agency-affiliated productions. The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at WGA West headquarters. WGA West president David Goodman is expected to attend. [...]

  • Bill Murray St Vincent 2014

    Weinstein Co. Sued Over Trademark Infringement in Bill Murray Film

    A horse-racing announcer has sued the Weinstein Co., claiming that the company infringed on his trademarked phrase in a 2014 Bill Murray movie. Dave Johnson is the man behind “And down the stretch they come!,” which he began using while calling races in Illinois in the 1960s. The phrase took off when Johnson moved to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content