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Billionaire Peter Thiel Reportedly Financed Hulk Hogan’s Gawker Lawsuit
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Hulk Hogan. Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone.

Summary: Hulk Hogan’s Gawker lawsuit was allegedly funded by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

Did Hulk Hogan have a super team member in his corner this whole time? A new report says that billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolled the wrestler’s lawsuit against media powerhouse Gawker and its founder Nick Denton.

  
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In March, Hulk Hogan, real name Terry Bollea, won a $140 million judgment against Gawker after he sued them for leaking a sex tape of him and his former friend’s wife. Hulk Hogan argued that the consensual sex was not news and instead an invasion of privacy, and jury members agreed. New York-based Gawker is appealing the decision, which some outlets report has the potential to bankrupt the company.

After winning the mega judgment, Hogan went back for a double slam and sued Gawker again. This time for releasing a transcript of him using racist language.

Forbes reported that libertarian Thiel had taken a lead role in financing Hulk Hogan’s litigation. Thiel was an early backer of Facebook and co-founded Paypal, and he has his own negative experience with Gawker. In 2007, the website outed him in a piece called “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.” Although Thiel is gay, he was not outspoken about his sexuality at the time.

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Gawker is facing similar lawsuits from writer Ashley Terrill and entrepreneur Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai. Gawker published a piece about Terrill’s pursuit of a story about Tinder’s executives, and they portrayed her as obsessed with a non-story. MIT-educated Ayyadurai has claimed that he created email, and Gawker’s website Gizmodo has referred to him as a “fraud.”

“When I truly believe and straightforwardly assert that I invented email, that assertion is in no way fraudulent,” Ayyadurai said in a statement. “Calling me a fraud in a widely ­read publication is blatantly libelous and legally actionable.”



Gawker’s main argument in its fight against Hulk Hogan was that they are journalists protected by the First Amendment. Denton recently spoke to the New York Times, stating he believed the lawsuits against him were strategic ways to get him out of business.

“If you’re a billionaire and you don’t like the coverage of you, and you don’t particularly want to embroil yourself any further in a public scandal, it’s a pretty smart, rational thing to fund other legal cases,” Denton said.

Reuters wrote that it is common for lawsuits to be backed by third parties, and it is not illegal. However, most of the time those backings are for financial gain, while this seems more about principle and payback.

Do you think Gawker will be protected under the First Amendment, or do you think their gossip is an invasion of privacy? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Reuters



 

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