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Hulk Hogan apologized and asked for forgiveness from his fans in his first interview since he was fired from the WWE after audio surfaced of the star wrestler making racist comments.
In an emotional sit-down that aired on Monday’s Good Morning America, Hogan insisted he’s “not a racist” but “never should have said what I said.”
“It was wrong,” he added. “I’m embarrassed by it.”
The WWE fired Hogan and scrubbed all mentions of his name from its website last month after reports surfaced of the leaked audio, in which he allegedly called his daughter’s boyfriend the n-word. Hogan apologized in a statement to People, saying: “Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it.”
“This is not who I am,” he added. “I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”
On GMA, Hogan said that when he was recorded without his knowledge for a 2007 sex tape, where he made his controversial comments, he “was at the lowest point of my life, to the point where I wanted to kill myself.”
“And I was very mad at my daughter for really no reason. I was upset over a situation that happened between her and her boyfriend. And I had no idea I was being taped,” he told ABC News’ Amy Robach of the recording, in which he refers to his daughter’s boyfriend using the n-word.
He also believes that the environment he grew up in caused him to feel comfortable using that language.
“Where I grew up was south Tampa, and it was a really rough neighborhood, and all of my friends, we greeted each other saying that word,” Hogan said. “The word was just thrown around like it was nothing.”
Hogan called his WWE firing “devastating” and like he’d “never existed.”
“Everything I’ve done my whole career, my whole life, it was like it never happened,” he said.
And he asked fans for their forgiveness.
“Oh my gosh, please forgive me. Please forgive me,” he said. “I’m a nice guy. I’m not the Hulk Hogan who rips his shirt off and bang, bang, bang slams giants. I’m Terry Bollea. I’m just a normal man.”
“Just because a person makes a mistake, just don’t throw ’em away. You don’t throw good people away,” he said. “If everybody at their lowest point was judged on one thing they said, and all of a sudden today your whole career was wiped out because of something you said 10 or 20 years ago, it would be a sad world. People get better. Every day. People get better.”
Hogan, who started crying when Robach read the poem his daughter, Brooke, posted on Facebook defending him, has dedicated himself to raising awareness of the impact of racial slurs, Robach said.
Aug. 31, 7:52 a.m. An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Hogan’s comments were made in the sex tape at the center of his legal battle with Gawker.
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