In his first TV interview since a jury awarded him a total of $140 million in his sex tape suit against Gawker Media, Hulk Hogan told Good Morning America’s Linzie Janis how “overwhelmed” with emotion he was when the verdict came down. One thing they did not discuss was another tape that allegedly includes his use of the “n-word.”
That discussion had to wait for Hogan’s second big interview of the day on The View where co-host Sunny Hostin confronted him over his use of racial slurs to describe a man his daughter Brooke was dating at the time and his own admissions on the tape that he is a “racist.”
“It’s probably the stupidest thing I ever said,” Hogan told her. “The people who know me know I’m not a racist.” As evidence, he pointed to the fact that he was married by an “Afro-American” minister and attends a predominantly “Afro-American” church. “Even the WWE knows I’m not a racist,” he continued. “They had to do what was best for business, for their company,” by firing him.
Pressed by Joy Behar to explain his language, Hogan said he only used the epithet because he was “mad” about the way his daughter was being treated. “I said something horrible and I will live with it forever,” he said, “but that’s not me, that’s not who I am.”
After those comments were made public, the WWE fired Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, saying in a statement that the pro wrestling organization is “committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide."
And while Hogan’s successful lawsuit against Gawker centered on the 9-second sex tape posted to the site in 2012, the media company’s owner, Nick Denton, claimed in a post-verdict essay this week that it had more to do with the racist outburst.
“Hogan did not sue us, as he has claimed, to recover damages from the emotional distress he purportedly experienced upon our revelation in 2012 of a sexual encounter with his best friend’s wife, Heather Cole (then Heather Clem),” Denton wrote. “It turns out this case was never about the sex on the tape Gawker received, but about racist language on another, unpublished tape that threatened Hogan’s reputation and career.”
Pointing to text messages between Hogan and his friend Bubba Clem as proof, Denton added, “I had suspicions, but it is now clear that Hogan’s lawsuit was a calculated attempt to prevent Gawker, or anyone else who might obtain evidence of his racism, from publishing a truth more interesting and more damaging than a revelation about his sex life.”
While Hogan described the racial slurs as the “stupidest thing” he ever said, he similarly called agreeing to have sex with his best friend’s wife the “worst decision I ever made in my life.” But while the enormous sum of money he has been awarded is meant to appease his “embarrassment” over the video, he told GMA that he has never even seen it.
“I was in a situation where I had to look and identify myself on a player and I walked away from it,” Hogan said. “I would never watch the tape.”
Denton and Gawker have vowed to appeal the verdict. But if they fail, the damages could succeed in putting the media company out of business. Asked if that was the goal of their lawsuit, Hogan’s lawyer told The View, “If they’re going to practice what they call journalism that way, they should be out of business. No question.”
As for Gawker’s former editor-in-chief, A.J. Daulerio, who originally posted the video himself, the jury slapped him personally with a $100,000 fine, despite the fact that he has $27,000 in unpaid college loans.
In an interview with The Daily Beast on Wednesday, Daulerio said he has no regrets about comments he made during a 2013 deposition in the case regarding the hypothetical publishing of sex tapes involving 4-year-olds.
“Sarcasm does not play well in front of a jury,” he learned.