A jury in Florida heard all of the details about Hulk Hogan's sex tape that was posted on Gawker, thanks to the pro-wrestler's lawsuit against the media company that netted him $140 million in damages — and now the rest of the world gets to hear the story, too.
Hogan (legal name: Terry Bollea) stopped by "The View" with his attorney on Wednesday for his first live interview since the jury's verdict, which decided that Gawker violated Hogan's privacy when the gossip site posted a clip of him having sex with Heather Clem, the ex-wife of his ex-best friend, Bubba "the Love Sponge" Clem.
Any casual observer would do a double-take at that description, so the hosts of "The View" made sure to ask Hogan the main question on everyone's mind: How did this even happen in the first place?
"Terry, why did you do this?" Joy Behar asked, after clarifying that Hogan and Heather Clem had sex on several occasions. "Why did you agree to engage in a sexual encounter with your former best friend's wife, and do you have any regrets about it?"
"I've got a ton of regrets about it. It's the worst decision I've ever made in my life," Hogan said, giving off a solemn, low-key vibe, emphasizing over and over that he sued Gawker because he doesn't want anyone else's privacy to be invaded in the same way. His toned-down demeanor was markedly different from this image he recently tweeted:
Then he gave the short version of the story: He was depressed because he was at a low point in his career and marriage, as both were practically nonexistent. At some point, he said, Bubba and Heather Clem (who had an open marriage) started vaguely joking that Hogan should get involved with Heather. Hogan said he told the couple to "knock it off" with the joke, but they persisted.
Then, Hogan said he "bottomed out" when everything was going wrong — and he implicitly trusted Bubba Clem, his closest friend. "Bubba was there holding my father when my father took his last breath and died in my arms and Bubba's arms," Hogan said. "He was my only friend. … I wasn't wrestling, I wasn't around the camaraderie of the guys in the locker room. I was in a really bad spot. And I knew it was wrong, it felt wrong, but I made a horrible decision."
The rest was history, as the encounter between Hogan and Heather Clem was recorded and eventually made its way to Gawker, which posted a short clip on its site. Though Hogan said Bubba Clem set him up, and has vehemently denied any knowledge of being filmed, Behar was suspicious — and echoed Gawker's attorney's claim that it's not implausible to think Hogan and Bubba Clem are in "cahoots" together and dreamed up this whole situation just to make money.
Hogan's attorney, David Houston, fielded that query. "We sponsored an FBI investigation into an extortion concerning this tape," he said. "It would be absurd for Mr. Bollea to have been involved at any level and then go out and try to involve the FBI so they can find out."
Meanwhile, Gawker plans to appeal the verdict; about an hour after "The View" ended, ABC announced that Gawker founder Nick Denton will be a guest on the show Thursday as a rebuttal to Hogan. Earlier, Denton released a statement saying he's confident his company will end up victorious. He also wrote a long post this week detailing previously sealed documents in the trial, and said they uncovered Hogan's true motivations for the suit.
"Hogan did not sue us, as he has claimed, to recover damages from the emotional distress he purportedly experienced upon our revelation in 2012 of a sexual encounter with his best friend's wife," Denton wrote. "It turns out this case was never about the sex on the tape Gawker received, but about racist language on another, unpublished tape that threatened Hogan's reputation and career."
"View" panelist Sunny Hostin brought up the recorded racist rant — about his daughter dating a black man — that ended Hogan's career with the WWE.
"You used the n-word several times and even called yourself a racist," Hostin said. "What do you have to say about that?"
"Probably the stupidest thing I've ever said. The people that know me know I'm not a racist. When I got remarried, my minister — Afro-American," he said. "I go to a predominantly Afro-American church. … Everybody that knows me knows I'm not a racist. Even the WWE knows I'm not a racist. They had to do what was best for business for their company, but for me, everybody that knows me knows that's not who I am."
"But you used an epithet," Behar pointed out. "So why did you say that? Why did you use the n-word?
"Because I was mad about the way my daughter was being treated. In my opinion, I thought she should get out of the relationship," Hogan replied. "She finally did, eventually. But I said something horrible, and I'll live with that forever. That's not me. That's not who I am."