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Hulk Hogan Awarded $115 Million in Gawker Sex Tape Lawsuit

Variety logo Variety 19/03/2016 Maane Khatchatourian

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A Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan $115 million in his sex tape lawsuit against Gawker Media, stemming from 2012.

The outcome comes after two weeks of testimony and six hours of deliberation on Friday.

The jury found that the news outlet violated Hogan’s privacy by posting the sex tape online and that Hogan has suffered severe emotional distress in the last three years since Gawker published excerpts of a video, which he claimed was secretly recorded, of Hogan having sex with the then-wife of his best friend, radio “shock jock” Bubba the Love Sponge.

The video was posted five years after it was recorded and was viewed 2.5 million times on the Gawker site.

Hogan cried and hugged attorney David Houston when the verdict was announced.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, was the first to take the witness stand and testified that the publication of the sex tape has “turned my world upside down” and “completely humiliated” him.

© Provided by Variety Hogan said last week during the trial in St Petersburg, Florida that he is “not the same person I was before all this craziness happened.”

“My problem is this whole videotape that you guys put out that lives forever,” Hogan said.

“It will be there forever on the Internet.”

Gawker argues that its publication of the footage was protected by the First Amendment.

“I believe in total freedom and information transparency,” said founder Nick Denton in court.

“I’m an extremist when it comes to that."

Denton released a statement following the ruling.

“Given key evidence and the most important witness were both improperly withheld from this jury, we all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case,” he said.

“I want to thank our lawyers for their outstanding work and am confident that we would have prevailed at trial if we had been allowed to present the full case to the jury. That’s why we feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win this case ultimately.”

Hogan won $115 million — $60 million for emotional distress and $55 million for economic damages ($15 million more than he had sought) — with the possibility of receiving more as the jury considers punitive damages and other matters.

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