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Gawker CEO Nick Denton files for personal bankruptcy protection

Petition lists former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan as his largest creditor after a jury's $140 million judgment against Gawker over a sex tape.

Pool, Getty Images

If you figured there was little chance Nick Denton was going to pay Hulk Hogan the millions of dollars he was awarded in a legal smackdown earlier this year, it's beginning to look like you were right.

The founder and CEO of the online media company Gawker on Monday filed for personal bankruptcy protection, listing Terry Bollea, aka the former professional wrestler Hogan, as his largest creditor. Bollea was awarded $140 million by a Florida jury trial in March after claiming Gawker violated his privacy in 2012 when it published a sex tape involving him and the now-estranged wife of a friend.

Denton's Chapter 11 petition filed with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York listed his assets at between $10 million and $50 million and liabilities between $100 million and $500 million. The filing indicated that Denton was personally responsible for $125 million of the judgment.

In a tweet Monday, Denton took aim at Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who has admitted being the bucks behind the defamation lawsuit, saying he was "consoled by the fact that my colleagues will soon be freed from this tech billionaire's vendetta."

Denton and Thiel have a history of animosity stretching back to at least 2007, when Gawker attempted to out Thiel, who is gay, before he was open about his sexuality. Two years later, Thiel told PEHub that Gawker's now-defunct Valleywag was "the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda."

In June, Gawker filed for bankruptcy protection and agreed to sell itself to fellow digital publisher Ziff Davis.

Thiel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.