Hulk Hogan Speaks Out After Gawker Trial, Calls Nick Denton-Owned News Site "Very Scary"
In his first on-camera interview since he was awarded more than $140 million in his sex-tape lawsuit, the former pro wrestler talks about wanting to take down Gawker and his emotional reaction to the verdict.
In his first on-camera interview since winning his sex-tape lawsuit against Gawker Media, Hulk Hogan told ABC News that regardless of the outcome of the trial, he was hoping to deliver a crushing blow to the Nick Denton-owned news site.
"I knew we were doing what was right," Hogan said in an interview from his hometown of Clearwater, Fla., that aired on Wednesday's Good Morning America. "Even if we would have lost, it would have been good because everybody would have known what Gawker is all about, because I exposed them and what they do and how they look at the world, which to me is very, very scary."
The former pro wrestler went on to slam former editor-in-chief A.J. Daulerio, saying when Daulerio took the stand, "His arrogance and his answers backed up his attitude and his beliefs. It scared me."
But he said that wasn't as frightening as Denton, whom Hogan called "the puppet master," recalling a moment during the trial when he and Denton were in the restroom together alone and he wondered if the digital media mogul would pretend to be hurt and that if the two were on WrestleMania together, it would be "fun."
Indeed, Hogan seemed particularly happy about the verdict, indicating he was relieved that the jury sided with him.
"When the verdict came in and the people, a jury of my peers, says 'We believe you,' it just — the world is round, I told you! It was just really great," Hogan said, smiling.
Hogan was awarded more than $140 million, including $115 million in compensatory damages, after a two-week trial that explored issues of free speech and privacy. Hogan sued Gawker three years ago, following the site's 2012 posting of a video Hogan claims was secretly recorded, showing him engaged in sexual intercourse with the then-wife of his best friend.
When the verdict was read, Hogan said he had an involuntary, physical reaction.
"I just did this crazy, involuntary snort, like a 900-pound pig," he said. "And as I tried to not snort again, water just came pouring out of my eyes. I just started shaking."
To critics who claim he's not a very sympathetic victim, pointing out he slept with another man's wife while he was still married, Hogan says he's ashamed of what he did but learned from his mistake.
"I don't agree with any of the stuff I did," he said. "I can make a million excuses for that. I'm accountable. I did that. It's not fun to talk about. It's very embarrassing. It's not who I am. The only thing I can say is I pray to God that people can learn from my mistake because I sure did. I sure learned."
He also maintained he didn't know he was being taped and believes he was set up by his friends.
Hogan later appeared on The View, accompanied by his lawyer David Houston for his first live TV interview since his trial. Joining the View co-hosts at the table in the show's New York studio, Hogan and Houston repeatedly denied that he was involved with recording the video or somehow in cahoots with his former best friend, radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, the husband of the woman he's having sex with in the video. Hogan indicated that his former friend admitted to recording the tape.
The pro wrestler also said he wasn't looking to make money from the tape or the lawsuit and pointed out that he doesn't have the $140 million he was awarded, and due to the appeals process, it's unknown how much he'll ultimately get and when.
"It's just a piece of paper," Hogan said of the verdict. "They'll appeal it and they'll do whatever they have to do for years and years and years."
Still he reiterated what he said on Good Morning America: that he was trying to make a point.
"I made people aware that this shouldn't happen to normal people, especially any kids that are on social media," Hogan said. "Gawker's the ultimate bully, and I just didn't want it to happen to you or anybody here. We got an email two days ago from the wife of a gentleman who had this happen to him. She was thanking us for what we did. He committed suicide, he killed himself. … I'm telling you it's devastating; it changes your world. When I shake [someone's] hand and he's a Hulkamaniac, I'm thinking, 'What do you think about me now? Did you see the tape? What do your kids think?' The kids [search] for 'Hulk Hogan videos' to watch WrestleMania, all of a sudden, 'Hulk Hogan sex tape' pops up."
When asked if they wanted to put Gawker out of business, Houston said, "If they want to practice what they call journalism that way, they should be out of business."