Years later, the former champion is expected to take the stand this afternoon in a civil trial in downtown St. Petersburg. He is asking for $100 million in damages.
During opening statements Monday morning, attorneys for Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, argued that by publishing a one-minute and 41-second sex tape, Gawker Media invaded Hogan's privacy and used his name and image for its own gain. When Bollea's attorneys sent the website a cease and desist letter, Gawker shrugged it off, refusing to take down the video for six months.
"For those six months, this man stood there naked, and exposed, to the world," said attorney Shane Vogt. "This was a pornographic video that was secretly recorded without Mr. Bollea's consent, and they knew it."
Vogt showed jurors a slide listing the pornographic websites where the sex tape was re-published several times over. He titled it: "Humiliation."
Bollea listened passively, his Fu Manchu mustache in a perpetual frown. Departing from the rule banning hats in the courtroom, the judge permitted him to wear a plain, black bandana around his forehead.
More than anything, the 62-year-old father of two looked tired.
Although Bollea's attorneys says roughly 7 million people visited Gawker's post, the website disputes that it made a profit on the sex tape.
On Monday, Gawker attorney Michael Berry said Gawker was after the truth, not profit. Posts like the one of Bollea that were labeled NSFW (Not Safe For Work) did not carry advertising or messages from sponsors.
Gawker was not the first entity to publish information about the tape, Berry said. Beginning in April of 2012, a series of gossip websites weighed in on Bollea's encounter, and though one published still photographs, none went so far as to post the video.
The information leaks stoked the public's curiosity, Berry said. Gone was the image of the friendly giant urging children to take their vitamins and say their prayers. Here was a man whose pillow talk was perhaps even less interesting than the average American's.
By the time Gawker got a copy of the video, it was a matter of public interest, Berry said.
"The public is fascinated with sex tapes. That's the way it is today," he said.
–Anna Phillips, Times staff writer