Hulk Hogan Awarded $115 Million in Lawsuit Against Gawker over Sex Tape

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2016

Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan arrives in the courtroom Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) NEW YORK POST OUT
STEVE NESIUS/Associated Press

Wrestling legend Hulk Hogan was awarded $115 million in damages by a six-person jury Friday after he sued the website Gawker for posting a video of him having sex with Heather Cole, then-wife of his friend Bubba Clem, according to CNN's Tom Kludt

The jury reportedly deliberated for close to six hours before a verdict was reached, according to Kludt, who provided a snapshot of the courtroom Friday afternoon: 

The Tampa Bay Times' Anna Phillips reported Hogan was awarded $55 million for economic injuries and $60 million for emotional distress.

Hogan spoke about the ruling on Twitter:

Although the jury determined Hogan's privacy was violated, Gawker released a statement Friday saying it will challenge the ruling, according to CNN's Brian Stelter: 

Stelter also relayed reaction from a pair of Gawker employees: 

According to Kludt, Hogan's attorney, Kenneth Turkel, stated in his closing argument that Gawker "didn't have the common decency" to try to contact the former wrestler before posting the video. 

Turkel also referenced an interview Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio gave in 2013 in which he stated, "invasion of privacy has incredibly positive effects on society," according to Kludt. 

Michael Sullivan, Gawker's attorney, addressed members of the jury and asked them to consider the far-reaching consequences a Hogan victory could have if it demonstrated "powerful celebrities, politicians and public figures would use our courts to punish people," per Kludt. 

The defense also attempted to assert Hogan knew he was being recorded by Cole after "the attorney noted that Hogan could be heard on the tape asking about cameras, and that the plaintiff was surely aware that Clem was in an open marriage and had a propensity for recording his wife in the act," per Kludt. 

According to Re/code's Noah Kulwin, Gawker sold a minority stake to investment firm Columbus Nova as a way to guard against potential losses in court. 

"The funding will strengthen GMG’s financial reserves as we prepare for trial this March in Hulk Hogan’s $100 million invasion of privacy lawsuit, in which we are defending our right to report truthfully on the conduct of public figures," Gawker Media founder and CEO Nick Denton wrote in a January e-mail, per Kulwin.