Former WWE superstar Hulk Hogan had some help taking on Gawker Media earlier this year.
Founder Nick Denton suspected that Hogan had a tag team partner in wrestling his media company.
“My own personal hunch is that it’s linked to Silicon Valley, but that’s nothing really more than a hunch,” Mr. Denton told the NY Times. “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.”
It seems that he guessed right.
According to Forbes, sources close to Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel say that Thiel paid for Hogan’s legal fees to sue the company over a sex tape which featured Hogan having sex with his best friend’s wife, Heather Clem (now Heather Cole). The website published a small portion of the tape, along with a nasty essay.
Hogan filed a lawsuit against Gawker. He won and was awarded a total of $140 million by a jury in Florida. The company has appealed the ruling. However, a Florida judge denied the company’s motion for a new trial.
“We trust the appeals court will correct the outsized Florida jury verdict and reaffirm the law that protects a free and critical press, which is more embattled and important than ever,” Gawker Media said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
Gawker published a story headlined “Peter Thiel Is Totally Gay, People,” before Thiel himself was publicly open about his sexual orientation. He later referred to the company as the “the Silicon Valley equivalent of al Qaeda.”