‘The saga is over,’ Gawker founder says, settling with Hulk Hogan for $31M

Terry Bollea’s four-year cage match with defunct news website Gawker is finally over and the wrestler will receive $31 million in cash for his troubles — a lower amount than a court had previously awarded for having his privacy invaded.

“Hulk Hogan’s retirement will be comfortable,” Gawker founder NIck Denton said in a blog post Wednesday.

Bollea, the real name of WWE icon Hulk Hogan, was awarded more than $140 million in damages earlier this year because a judge ruled that Gawker was in the wrong to have published excerpts of a sex tape of his in 2006.

Bollea sued for invasion of privacy and the legal battle stretched on for years, but the verdict ultimately pushed the company into bankruptcy. The site’s founder, Nick Denton, vowed to appeal but in a blog post Wednesday declared that “the saga is over,” after the two sides reached a financial settlement.

The settlement instead means Hogan will get $31 million US and 45 percent of the proceeds from the potential sale of, said Elizabeth Traub, a spokeswoman for Hogan’s lawyer, David Houston. is dormant but its archives remain online.

Stories taken down

Houston said in an emailed statement that “all parties have agreed it is time to move on.”

Denton says that as part of the settlement, three of the company’s stories — about Hogan and two others who had also filed suits — are being taken offline.

“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,” Denton wrote.

“As the most unpalatable part of the deal, three true stories — about Hulk Hogan, the claim by Shiva Ayyadurai that he invented email and the feud between the founders of Tinder — are being removed from the web.”

The case became a lightning rod in media circles after it emerged that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel was personally backing Bollea’s lawsuit. Thiel had an axe to grind with the site after it publicly outed him as gay several years ago.

Critics have accused Thiel of establishing a dangerous precedent in the future for rich, powerful individuals to use their financial resources to silence critics via the legal system. But as recently as this week, Thiel dismissed those criticisms, saying his efforts were about ensuring privacy, not silencing dissent.

“If you’re middle class, if you’re upper-middle class [or] a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan you have no effective access to our legal system,” Thiel said. “It costs too much.”

In his post, Denton said he settled because an “all-out legal war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight.” 

“It’s a shame the Hogan trial took place without the motives of the plaintiff’s backer being known. If there is a lasting legacy from this experience, it should be a new awareness of the danger of dark money in litigation finance,” Denton said.

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