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Two days removed from a Florida jury awarding Hulk Hogan $140 million in damages from Gawker, Hogan traveled to New York City to join “The View” for a discussion of the trial.
Hogan was identified as “Terry Bollea” in the Roundtable-style TV interview Wednesday morning on ABC, continuing the court room narrative of trying to separate himself from his wrestling persona.
Hogan opened the Q&A discussion with saying all he wanted was to be believed that his privacy was invaded and he was betrayed by Bubba the Love Sponge, not part of a conspiracy to secretly release video of him engaging in sexual acts with Heather Clem, Bubba’s ex-wife.
Hogan, who was joined by his attorney David Houston at the discussion table, said the $140 million is just a piece of paper right now, and he’s not that concerned about the money.
“They’ll appeal it and they’ll do whatever they have to do for years and years,” Hogan said. “My point was even if I lost, I made people aware that this shouldn’t happen to normal people. Gawker’s the ultimate bully.”
Hogan and Houston framed their court room battle against Gawker as a mission to help others avoid being subjected to damaging videos and stories published about them online. Hogan reiterated his position that he wants Gawker to do a 180 in their coverage since they “have a lot of talented people working for them” answering to Nick Denton.
Houston added that when looking at the evidence, there was “potentially a crime” committed by Gawker beyond the privacy issues.
Houston noted they will continue to battle Gawker when they appeal, and he is confident the verdict will stick because of the comments from the jury that seeing the video during their deliberations “sealed the case” for Hogan. The idea is that the jury determined Hogan did not know he was being recorded because he would not have said what he said if he knew he was being recorded.
Hogan then talked about Bubba as committing the ultimate betrayal to him of being the only friend he had left after his marriage fell apart, his kids left the house, and he wasn’t in wrestling. The discussion included Hogan and Houston identifying how the tape changed hands from Bubba’s home to a former radio d.j. to Gawker, and Bubba accusing Heather of releasing the tape when the video first leaked in 2012. Hogan also walked through his relationship with Bubba and Heather that ultimately led to him having sex with Heather.
“And I was – you know, just texting and texting, ‘Why did you do this to me? You’ve destroyed my life. Why did – please just tell me. You set me up. You filmed me without my knowledge. Why’d you do this?’” Hogan told Good Morning America in a separate interview. “I never got an answer. Never.”
The View’s interview shifted to Hogan’s racist remarks made on the audio track of the tape. “People who know me know I’m not a racist,” Hogan said. “WWE had to do what was best for business” when they disassociated from Hogan. He said he has to live with the comments forever. Asked why he said what he said, including using the n-word, Hogan said he was at the lowest point of his life, he was mad at his daughter Brooke, and he regrettably spoke out in anger.
Hogan acknowledged letting down his kids, Brooke and Nick, with the whole ordeal. But, he said their support and his new wife Jennifer’s support gave him the gas he needed to make it through the trial.
“View” co-host Joy Behar, who peppered Hogan and Houston with tough questions, tried to resolve one final thing to end the interview. What if Hogan was conspiring with Bubba to release the tape for publicity or money? Houston and Hogan answered that none of the evidence points to that and it would not have made sense for them to sponsor an FBI investigation into how the tape was leaked to Gawker because of what was contained on the tape that essentially ended Hogan’s wrestling career.
The interview closed with Houston acknowledging a “long appeals process” ahead as the battle continues with Gawker.
– Also on Wednesday, ABC’s “Good Morning America” released a sit-down interview with Hogan discussing the trial and verdict. Included was Hogan saying he wants to be included in the WWE family again.
“It would be really nice to be, you know, in the Hall of Fame. But it’s not as important as what we did with this case,” Hogan said. “I don’t think you can destroy my legacy, you know, because the fans know Hulk Hogan and know what flipped the switch on this industry … it would be great to be part of the Hall of Fame and be legitimate and be, you know, looked at by the establishment of the WWE as back in good graces. But if it doesn’t happen, you know, it’d be sad. But I can look at myself in the mirror and be happy.”
As for his ex-wife, Linda Bollea, who spoke out against Hogan throughout the trial, Hogan said all he can do is pray for her.
Overall, Hogan said he hopes that his celebrity status, which Gawker went after by publishing the video, will turn out to be a good thing for others paying attention to the trial.
“Even when I was there it didn’t feel like the right thing to do. But I did it anyway,” he said of his encounter with Heather. “That’s very humiliating, very embarrassing. And 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.”