Two major celebrity cases have recently come to an end, and in both cases, victory went to the defendant. Sportscaster Erin Andrews and sports entertainer (WWE’s preferred term for “pro wrestler”) Hulk Hogan (whose real name is Terry Bollea) have won cases regarding the invasion of their privacy and the publication of personal content online. But while the money awarded will certainly be seen as a benefit, the damage has already been done to their personal lives and careers—especially for Hogan.
If you’re somehow still not familiar with Erin Andrews’ peephole video, Erin Andrews won her case against a Mariott hotel in Nashville, Tennessee where her stalker, Michael David Barrett, was able to record her in a state of undress through her hotel room door’s peephole in 2008; Barrett then uploaded the videos online. Andrews had asked for $75 million from the hotel, citing negligence and emotional distress; after all, about 17 million people are believed to have seen it. The reporter was awarded $55 million by the jury, less than what she asked for, with about $28 million coming from Barrett and around $26 million coming from the Mariott.
More recently, the case of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape, which was against blog network Gawker, finally came to a close, and it did so overwhelmingly in Hogan’s favor. The man best known for telling children of the ’80s to take their vitamins and say their prayers sued Gawker after they uploaded a tape showing Hogan having sex with the then-wife of his then-best friend, Todd Clem, better known as radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge. While this wasn’t an affair—Hogan actually had Clem’s consent—Hogan didn’t know he was being filmed. Requesting $100 million, Hogan got that and then some; the jury, apparently all Hulkamaniacs, awarded him $115 million plus an additional $25 million in punitive damages.
While both cases will add to the winners’ net worth, Hogan clearly came out the bigger winner of his case, having won $40 million above what he asked for, compared to Erin Andrews who got $20 million less than her asking amount. However, Andrews can say that she’ll have an easier time moving forward, with or without the money, as she’s still employed by both Fox and Dancing with the Stars while Hogan was fired from WWE, where he served as an ambassador, after racist remarks he made on the tape were made public. Several suggestions have been made about how this previously unseen part of the tape was leaked, including a belief that Gawker itself did it to gain sympathy by making Hogan look bad before the trial; if this is the case, it backfired, as it only further proved that Hogan didn’t know he was being filmed.
Despite what many people believe, the disparity between the reward amounts likely has nothing to do with differences in gender but rather in nature and location. One analyst suggested Hogan received more because his case was against a media company, which would be the target of greater disgust from the jury and general public in comparison to a stalker and a single hotel. That may seem backwards—stalking is a pretty big deal and Andrews believes the hotel may have helped Barrett set up the cameras—but public opinion is huge, especially in celebrity cases.