Hulk Hogan and Gawker are sharing a nasty war of words over a decade-old sex tape, and now those verbal salvos are heading to a Florida courtroom. The two sides go before a jury today over The Hulkster’s $100 million lawsuit over Gawker’s airing of portions of the tape.
As CNN reports, back in the early 2000s, Hulk Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea) was at the home of his then-friend Todd Clem, aka radio host Bubba the Love Sponge.
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For reasons that, as of this writing, remain unclear, Bubba encouraged Hogan to have sex with his (Bubba’s) wife, Heather, while Bubba himself excused himself to another room. Clem’s security cameras captured the two having sex.
For about 30 minutes, Hogan and Heather were recorded having sex with each other.
At the end of the video, Bubba can be heard telling Heather, “If we ever need to retire, here is our ticket.”
Former WWE star Hulk Hogan’s trial date over leaked sex tape with ex-wife of former pal set https://t.co/Y0xBuKABG2 pic.twitter.com/TOMcpxURZX
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Whether or not Hulk Hogan knew he was being recorded is a matter of dispute; Bubba initially insisted that Hogan knew he was being recorded. However, in 2012, after Hulk sued and the two parties settled, Bubba changed his tune and said that Hulk didn’t know that he was being recorded.
Regardless of who is telling the truth, one thing remains clear: The sex tape made its way into the hands of Gawker, an online blog dedicated to, among other things, celebrity gossip. And on October 4, 2012, Gawker released portions of the Hulk Hogan sex tape – about a minute and 40 seconds of it.
Hogan sued Gawker, seeking to have the sex tape removed, as well as $100 million in damages. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin Monday.
Even before a single word had been uttered in court, however, Hogan and Gawker have been trading nasty barbs, according to Fox News. Gawker’s lawyers claim that the $100 million lawsuit, which would completely bankrupt the company, is about nothing more than a celebrity caught with his pants down (literally) trying to control the narrative about his sexual escapades.
“Three-and-a-half years ago, Gawker showed nine seconds of Hulk Hogan having sex with the wife of his best friend, Bubba the Love Sponge — who actually made the 30-minute tape and appears in it himself. Hulk Hogan was more than willing to talk about his sex life — including in two autobiographies, a reality TV series and Howard Stern’s radio show — until he didn’t like what Gawker had to say. Now he wants $100 million as compensation. Compare that with the $5,000 settlement that Bubba paid Hulk for the actual taping.”
Hulk Hogan’s attorneys, meanwhile, see things differently. In a statement, Hogan’s legal team said that Gawker invaded the pro wrestler’s privacy in the name of making a buck and is trying to justify their actions under the guise of “news.”
“Gawker will do anything, say anything, and attempt anything to disguise what amounts to reprehensible conduct. What they did is apparent. All excuses aside it is time for them to come to terms with their conduct and be held accountable.”
Jane Kirtley, a media ethics and law professor at the University of Minnesota, tells CNN that Hogan’s case raises tricky First Amendment questions. She believes Hogan is trying to punish Gawker for “publishing truthful information,” something which is expressly allowed for under the First Amendment.
Of course, it will be up to a jury to decide whether or not Gawker actually invaded Hulk Hogan’s privacy, or if Hogan is trying to silence Gawker to keep them from making him look bad.
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]