Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker: Everything You Need to Know About the Sex Tape Case

From the First Amendment to racial slurs…

Last Updated: March 3, 2016 @ 11:51 AM

Hulk Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, is in a $100 million legal battle with Gawker over his privacy after a portion of a sex tape was published without his permission.

The case is expected to last several weeks and Wired has called it a battle for “free speech, privacy and online media.” Jury selection is underway in a St. Petersburg, Fla., courtroom in what The Washington Post calls the “first celebrity-sex tape case to ever go to trial.”

If you don’t know the details, don’t worry – TheWrap has you covered.

So, what is this all about?

Hogan made a sex tape with Heather Cole, then-wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, back in 2006. Gawker published parts of the video in 2012. Hogan feels this was a violation of his privacy, but Gawker argues that it was legitimate news.

Gawker founder Nick Denton feels that this is a First Amendment issue, and his website had the right to publish the video because Hogan had previously discussed his sex life in public forums.

Hogan is seeking $100 million from Gawker.

“If we lost this case, then it would be extremely hard to do the kind of journalism that we do,” Denton told BuzzFeed last June.

So what about the racial remarks that got Hogan fired?

WWE ended its relationship with Hogan, but not because he was caught having sex on camera. The WWE Hall of Famer was caught making racist remarks to Cole in another video that turned up because of the sex-tape drama.

The National Enquirer and RadarOnline reported the racist comments last July in a joint investigation, after one of several sex tapes the FBI obtained revealed Hogan allegedly discussing his daughter’s black boyfriend.

Hogan reportedly said: “I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*ck some n*gger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n*gger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player! I guess we’re all a little racist. Fucking n*gger.”

The FBI was apparently investigating a man who allegedly tried to use the tapes to extort money from Hogan when they discovered the insensitive comments. The WWE terminated Hogan’s contract and scrubbed most mentions of him from its website once the remarks went public.

The same day, Hogan apologized to People magazine. While damaging to his career and life, the racial comments are not part of the case against Gawker.

Hogan is confident

Moments before entering the courtroom for Day 1 of jury selection, the former WWE superstar tweeted a message to his fans: “Time for the real main event! “I AM” going to slam another Giant! Hogan vrs Gaeker! Watcha Gonna Do Gawker? Only Justice Brother HH.”

What’s up with Hogan’s courtroom outfits?

Hogan showed up to jury selection wearing all black, including his trademark bandanna. Last year a Circuit Court judge ruled that Hogan could wear a plain bandanna in court.

What is the relationship between Hogan and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem?

The two were best friends and Hogan often appeared on Clem’s radio show. Hogan was the best man at the radio host’s wedding and even the godfather to his son. That was before the sex tape scandal.

“Just for the record, Bubba and I are NOT friends and never will be friends, we are NOT friends,” Hogan told the New York Daily News back in 2012.

The video of Hogan and Clem’s then-wife was filmed inside Clem’s bedroom. The two have settled any legal fallout with an undisclosed settlement. Clem initially said Hogan was aware that the sex was being filmed, but backtracked after the settlement.

How did Gawker receive the video in the first place?

It’s still unknown, but a Tampa Police report allegedly points to a former colleague of Clem as a possible suspect. The Hillsborough County State Attorney declined to press charges. It was reportedly delivered to Gawker anonymously.

How famous is Hogan?

Millennials might not remember, but Hogan is arguably the most popular wrestler in history. The six-time world champion was the main attraction at the first WrestleMania in 1985 and has battled every relevant wrestler for over a four-decade span, including Andre the Giant, The Macho Man Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, The Rock and Vince McMahon. He was induced to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

Hogan has also appeared in various films, such as “Rocky III,” “No Holds Barred” and “Santa with Muscles.” He also starred in a reality show on VH1 called “Hogan Knows Best.”