Bankruptcy court documents, and a statement from website founder Nick Denton, indicate Gawker has settled with Hulk Hogan for $31 million in cash, and a cut of the eventual sale of the website.
Hogan sued the site for posting video of a tape filmed without his knowledge which showed him before, during and after sex with Heather Cole, the ex-wife of his former friend, radio personality Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem. The former WWE wrestler won the lawsuit and was awarded $115 million for emotional damages and lost wages, plus $25.1 in punitive damages.
Denton, who sold his Gawker Media Group to Univision rather than shutter its doors, had vowed to appeal the rulings, but issued a statement today (Nov. 2) explaining the decision to settle, and avoiding more legal conflicts with his nemesis, conservative tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who funded the Hogan case - allegedly to retaliate against Gawker outing him as homosexual years before:
Yes, we were confident the appeals court would reduce or eliminate the runaway Florida judgment against Gawker, the writer of the Hogan story and myself personally. And we expected to prevail in those other two lawsuits by clients of Charles Harder, the lawyer backed by Peter Thiel.
But all-out legal war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight. The Valley billionaire, famously relentless, had committed publicly to support Hulk Hogan beyond the appeal and “until his final victory.”
Ryan Mac of Forbes unearthed that in addition to the $31 million in cash, Hogan will receive a percentage of the eventual liquidation of Gawker. That site is currently shut down as part of a non-compete between Denton and Univision.
Denton says it’s his hope that all parties, including Hogan, can now move on. We shall see.