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Hulk Hogan body slams Gawker, wins $115 million in sex tape case

The wrestling star has won a suit against Gawker media for publishing a sex tape showing him with a friend's estranged wife.

Hulk Hogan holding an opponent in a headlock. He's just put the moves on Gawker.
Wally McNamee/Corbis

Just because you're new media doesn't mean you can ignore old media's rules.

That's the message to Gawker Media after a jury in Florida ruled that Gawker had wrongly published a sex tape of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, born Terry Gene Bollea. Gawker will have to pay him $115 million.

At issue were edited portions of a sex tape involving Hogan and Heather Clem, the now-estranged wife of a friend. Gawker published the tape in October 2012, under the headline "Even for a minute, watching Hulk Hogan have sex in a canopy bed is not safe for work but watch it anyway." The video has since been removed pending litigation, though the article describing it is still available.

Hogan also sued the Clems but settled out of court.

The jury found Nick Denton, Gawker's founder and a defendant in the case, personally liable in the case. It also found against Albert Daulerio, the site's former editor.

"We all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case," Denton said. "We feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win this case ultimately."

Hogan's lawyers didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The decision, which came in above the $100 million Hogan was seeking, could have wide ramifications for the news blog industry. Gawker has defended itself saying the suit could prevent it from pursuing stories it feels are newsworthy, but Hogan's argument that the gossip blog violated his privacy won over the jury.