Well let me tell you something, brother! Terry Bollea, better known to the world as Hulk Hogan, one of the biggest stars in the history of pro wrestling, saw his court case against site network Gawker finally begin this month, and the stakes are high—if Hogan wins the trial, it could be the end for Gawker and all of its sites! But why is Hogan going after a media company so strongly that he could put them out of business? Because of the two words that every celebrity dreads having associated with them: “sex tape.” But will Hulk Hogan win the $100 million civil lawsuit against Gawker?
Back in 2012, Gawker posted a video of Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, the then-wife of his then-best friend (whom Hogan also sued), Bubba Clem, a Florida radio personality known by his moniker of “Bubba the Love Sponge.” The tape was filmed by Clem himself and he can be heard at the beginning of the tape telling Hogan and his wife to “do their thing,” meaning there’s no affair going on here; they were all consenting adults. Clem would later take DVDs made of the recording to the office as the couple’s divorce was getting messy and he didn’t want them left in the house, lest she use them against him. However, a disgruntled employee, Matt “Spiceboy” Loyd, ended up stealing the tapes and giving them to Gawker in hopes of generating enough interest for a porn company to buy them.
Gawker posted only two minutes of the video in an articled titled, “Even for a Minute, Watching Hulk Hogan Have Sex in a Canopy Bed is Not Safe For Work but Watch it Anyway,” which included an explanation of the video’s contents. When Hogan found out about the post, he quickly made clear his intentions to sue Gawker Media to the tune of $100 million in damages due to emotional suffering, defamation (the aforementioned article wasn’t very impartial), and loss of privacy. That last one is especially important, as it’s part of the major crux of Hogan’s case. That’s because a case could be made that, as a celebrity and a person who has appeared on reality TV, Hulk Hogan can’t really speak to privacy. However, the man with the 24-inch pythons is claiming that he wasn’t aware that the act was being filmed as a sex tape, which changes everything.
Hogan is apparently confident about his chances in the trial, tweeting on March 1, “Time for the real main event! “I AM” going to slam another Giant! Hogan vrs Gawker! Watcha Gonna Do Gawker? Only Justice Brother HH [sic].” A win would certainly help Hulk Hogan’s net worth, and he needs it; WWE fired him in July of last year after court-sealed tapes leaked that featured Hogan making racist comments. It has been speculated that Gawker themselves leaked the footage in an effort to help their case by swaying the public opinion of those who would have otherwise called themselves Hulkamaniacs.
Time for the real main event!”I AM” going to slam another Giant! Hogan vrs Gawker! Watcha Gonna Do Gawker? Only Justice Brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 1, 2016
And they may need that public opinion, given what Gawker stands to lose. With the amount Hulk Hogan is asking for, plus additional legal fees, Gawker may have to shut down all its sites, which includes the likes of Jezebel (women’s interests), Kotaku (video games) and Gizmodo (gadgets/tech), should they lose and have to pay in full. For those who don’t regularly read Gawker pages, the family of sites are often regarded poorly, as they are criticized for frequently using “clickbait” articles (sensationalist articles that are weak on content and designed to attract hits and revenue) and engaging in conflicts of interest (such as having Kotaku editors review games developed by their own friends). They’ve also shown a bit of hypocrisy regarding the matter of Hulk Hogan, treating the 2014 iCloud celebrity nude leaks in the exact opposite manner they did the sex tape that’s at the heart of this court case.