Terry Bollea—better known by his ring name “Hulk Hogan“—hasn’t been in a spotlight this bright since his heyday in the WWE. The 63-year-old former wrestler, actor, TV personality, entrepreneur and rock bassist has recently been involved in a very public lawsuit against the popular gossip site Gawker.
Back in 2012, the site posted a one minute and forty one second clip of a sex tape, which showed Hogan getting it on with his ex-wife’s best friend. The trial, which began this week in St. Petersburg, Florida, will determine whether or not Gawker had the right to post the video, which Hogan claims was an extreme invasion of privacy.
“I was embarrassed by what it did to me as a person, but it was even embarrassing as a character,” he said Monday in court. “Hulk Hogan was embarrassed.” And, when Hulk Hogan is embarrassed, Hulk Hogan sues—for $100 million in emotional damages.
This is not the first time Hogan’s been in hot water, but no matter what controversy he’s faced, there’s no denying that the 12-time world wrestling champion has been successful. Here’s a look back on how the Hulk managed to rake in the cash.
Hulk Hogan’s Net Worth as of 2019: $8 Million + $115 Million (Not Counting Attorney Fees and Pending Appeals By The Plaintiff) = $123 Million
Hulk Hogan broke into the professional wrestling scene in the late 70’s in Florida. He earned the nickname “the Hulk” after he appeared on a talk show with Lou Ferrigno, the star of The Incredible Hulk television series. Sitting next to each other, it was obvious to the audience that Hogan was actually taller, more muscular, and just generally bigger than the Hulk. Soon after, he started performing as Terry “The Hulk” Boulder.
By 1979, the Hulk was noticed by Vincent McMahon Sr., the legendary promoter and owner of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)—now known as theWorld Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Hogan had his debut match against Andre the Giant. Hogan won the match and Hulkmania took off from there.
In the 1982 movie Rocky III, Sylvester Stallone cast Hogan as Rocky’s opponent “Thunderlips: the Ultimate Male.” His over-the-top cameo is just one example of the Hulk’s popularity in the 80’s. He was featured on the covers of dozens of magazines, such as TV Guide and People. He also made the cover of Sports Illustrated, making him the first and (until 2013) only professional wrestler to do so.
The Hulk was also no stranger to TV appearances. He even had his own CBS Saturday morning cartoon: Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. He was actually a big hit with kids. He was named the most requested celebrity for the Make-a-Wish Foundation at the time.
He continued to wrestle for the WWF and internationally, holding the title of “WWF Champion” for four consecutive years.
In 2005, Hogan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. That same year, VH1 premiered a reality TV called Hogan Knows Best, which followed the day-to-day life of Hogan, his wife Linda, and their two children, Brooke and Nick. The show was cancelled in 2007, which, coincidentally, was when Linda filed for divorce.
She said it was due to Hogan’s multiple affairs, but Hogan continues to deny that he ever cheated on her. At the time, it was estimated that Hogan’s personal net worth was about 30 to $40 million, but after the divorce, he was forced to pay his ex-wife 70% of the couple’s combined assets, which added up to about $30 million in cash, property and cars.
In February of 2014, Hulk returned to the WWE the host of WrestleMania, but the position was short-lived. Less than a year later,Hogan was fired after a series of racist comments that were caught on tape in 2007 were made public. Really, someone needs to explain to this man how video cameras work.
But, back to the ongoing Gawker lawsuit:
“Look, this is a serious legal case, with constitutional implications,” Gawker founder Nick Denton told The Guardian. “It’s not a cage match except for those that see everything through the prism of fake wrestling.”
Gawker‘s defense is that sex tape falls under the protection of the First Amendment, since, as a celebrity, Hogan’s life—including his sex life—is of interest to the public. He’s made it public interest.
“Hulk Hogan was more than willing to talk about his sex life – including in two autobiographies, a reality TV series and Howard Stern’s radio show – until he didn’t like what Gawker had to say. Now he wants $100 million as compensation,” the media group told People.
The Hulk’s argument is that the Hulk is a fictional character. Being that open is a part of the act, but that doesn’t mean that the man behind the persona—Terry Bollea—deserves to have his private life bared for millions to see.
“Terry Bollea is a normal person,” he said. “Wrestling is his job.” This line of logic ended up with Hogan being asked about the length of his penis under oath because, apparently, Terry Bollea and Hulk Hogan differ in that respect as well.
“Well, it’s not mine, because mine isn’t that size. But we were discussing the length of Hulk Hogan’s. I do not have a 10-inch penis,” said Hogan under oath in a freakin’ courthouse. “No, I do not. Seriously.”
Although the trial seemed to be a sideshow, on Friday, March 18th the trial came to a close and the jurors announced their verdict. They declared that Hulk Hogan should be awarded $115 million dollars by Gawker Media Group, $55 million for economic injuries and $60 million for emotional distress.
On Monday, it will be determined if there should be any punitive damages —but Hulk shouldn’t be spending that money yet. That big dollar figure will still go to a court appeal, and you can figure that his lawyers were working on a retainer agreement for about 30% of the judgment.
Gawker’s founder Nick Denton and journalist AJ Daulerio were held liable in the lawsuit. Denton has already said that the judgment will be appealed.
Rumours heavily point to the return of wrestling industry’s legend, Hulk Hogan ahead of this year’s WrestleMania showcase.
Hulk Hogan is returning to WWE Raw to pay tribute to “Mean” Gene Okerlund, late announcer who passed away on January 2nd.