Over a three-decade career as a professional wrestler, Hulk Hogan made millions of dollars inflicting pain on the likes of Andre the Giant, The Undertaker and The Iron Sheik. This week, the WWE Hall of Famer is wrestling with a New York gossip blog in court, arguing the emotional pain done to him is worth at least $100 million.
Jury selection is underway today in St. Petersburg, Fla., in Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for $100 million for defamation, loss of privacy, and emotional pain. In 2012, the blog published a snippet of a sex tape involving Bollea and the wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge, aka Todd Clem. Hogan tweeted this morning:
Time for the real main event!"I AM" going to slam another Giant! Hogan vrs Gawker! Watcha Gonna Do Gawker? Only Justice Brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 1, 2016
Gawker is basing its defense on the First Amendment, claiming Hogan has made his sex life public in the past.
The run up to the trial, which should begin Monday, has been ugly for both sides over the past year.
Last summer, Gawker was hammered over its decision to publish a story that alleged a senior Condé Nast executive attempted to solicit a male escort. Backlash was swift, and it culminated in Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton deleting the story from the site. Denton said publishing it in the first place "is a decision I regret."
The removal of the story led to the departures of Gawker's executive editor and editor in chief. They claim Denton took the story down because of pressure from advertisers and the looming threat of the Hogan suit.
A few days later, the WWE severed its ties with Hogan after more footage of the sex tape was leaked to the media showing Hogan making racist remarks. Hogan's attorney's accused Gawker of releasing the video, which it denies.
During an event at Gawker's new Flatiron offices last week, Denton, along with Gawker's general counsel Heather Dietrick, briefly discussed the suit. He talked about the importance of freedom of the press: "We are the press, we are journalists, we rely on the defense of the First Amendment," he said.
Meanwhile, Denton seems to be keeping his focus on the business today:
Stats… After Gawker properties live on Facebook Instant Articles, US UVs up to 4.7m, from earlier norm of 4m. pic.twitter.com/TB1GTGt9ss
— Nick Denton (@nicknotned) March 1, 2016