WWE has cut ties with Hulk Hogan — one of the company’s most iconic entertainers — after audio surfaced in which the wrestler repeatedly used the N-word.
“WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide,” the company said in a statement obtained by TheWrap on Friday.
Hogan has since issued an apology, stating the language he used was not reflective of who he is. “Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it,” Hogan said in a statement People.
“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise,” Hogan continued. “I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”
According to multiple reports, the decision came after multiple media outlets reported Hogan used the word in the sex tape that is at the center of his lawsuit against Gawker. He apparently used it in reference to a man his daughter Brook was dating.
However, Hogan also used the racial epithet several times during a radio interview with DJ Whoo Kid in 2012.
“Well, Booker T used to do that to me, and every time I pull up YouTube there’s that famous thing with Booker T and his brother is there and they’re all talking trash, and Booker T says, ‘I’m coming for ya Hogan, you ni–er’-and not ‘ni-a,’ he goes ‘ni–r,’” Hogan said.
He used the term several more times, and asked why it’s OK for black people to use the term but not him.
The WWE has already removed most mentions of Hogan from its website and stores. This comes at a particularly bad time for Hogan, who is currently engaged in a $100 million lawsuit against Gawker over the release of a sex tape featuring the wrestler.
Hogan is one of the most popular wrestlers in history, with “Hulkamania” ruling over WWE programming during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. He won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship six times during his career, most recently in 2002. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
UPDATED July 24, 2015 11:44am: According to multiple reports, Hogan used the n-word in the sex tape at the center of his Gawker trial.