Wow, we bet Andre the Giant seems a lot smaller compared to the huge match Hulk Hogan just won against Gawker! The Hulk Hogan sex tape verdict is finally in and, as he has for most of his pro wrestling career, the Hulkster came out on top.
That’s probably an understatement. The former WWE wrestler was awarded $140 million in his suit against Gawker. Hogan’s claims stem from the news web site releasing a clip of Hulk Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, the wife of his then-best friend and radio host Bubba the Love Sponge. The specific claim was for loss of privacy, emotional pain, and defamation.
Breaking down the Verdict
Though the sum total of $140 million was what Hogan came away with, that amount actually comes from different sources. The original $115 million verdict in favor of Hogan was for compensatory damages. That amount is related directly to the claims of publicity rights violations, privacy intrusion, and infliction of emotional distress.
Hogan was awarded another $25 million in punitive damages by a Florida judge. Of that $25 million, $15 million came from Gawker itself, $10 million came from Nick Denton, who owns the New York-based blog site, and editor and Chief AJ Daulerio had to fork up $100,000 of his own. That brought the precise sum of Hogan’s winnings to $140.1 million.
The verdict was in line with both Gawker’s and Denton’s net worth. Gawker had made close to $50 million in revenue last year. That put the company’s value at approximately $83 million. Denton himself is worth over $275 million due to his stakes in other businesses. The jurors were advised to keep this in mind when coming up with a verdict and were instructed not to set a punitive amount that would destroy Gawker financially.
Hogan and Gawker Headed In Different Directions
It was no secret that at the time of the scandal, Hulk Hogan was having financial troubles. His divorce from his ex-wife Linda Hogan came to a settlement in 2011 with Hulk—whose real name is Terry Bollea—having to give up 70% of his liquid assets and 40% ownership of his companies. The assets alone added up to $7.44 million, and there was another $3 million property settlement. The piling on continued when the WWE fired Hogan once snippets of the Hulk Hogan video were released in which he was caught repeatedly saying the “N” word in reference to one of his daughter’s boyfriends.
Hogan also admitted on Good Morning America that he wasted “hundreds of millions of dollars” in his prime. In the same interview, he said “there [were] houses being bought, and cars being bought, and vacations for family members.” In the aftermath of all this, Hogan said he was living in a rental unit.
But that all changes now as Hulk Hogan’s net worth has undoubtedly jumped significantly after the Gawker verdict. Meanwhile, Gawker will have to find a way to repair its finances and its name, both of which have taken a beating with this case.
Gawker has been previously criticized for its content, its use of click bait and for abusing the privacy of celebrities. Though they have been one of the more popular gossip sites, this verdict will certainly put a severe damper on its wallet and the set it back in the all-important court of public opinion. Denton will have to figure out if Gawker can sustain its partner sites, which include Kotaku and Jezebel.
Hogan Slams another Giant
Hogan is no doubt thrilled at his victory. He took to social media to announce, “Told ya I was gonna slam another giant.” That excitement is certainly warranted, and Hogan hit the gym with his wife, Jennifer McDaniel, and daughter Brooke Hogan in Florida.
No word yet on how this case will impact Gawker for certain—no doubt they will formulate some kind of appeal. But in the immediate future, we can score one for celebrity privacy. Actually score $140 million!