Hulk Hogan is a superstar among superstars in the world of professional wrestling. From his start with the AWA to his explosion with the WWF and WCW, Hulk Hogan was the biggest draw ever in sports entertainment. A larger-than-life athlete, he would sell out stadium after stadium. His merchandise made him millions. He even transitioned into becoming an actor. He was truly the first wrestler to ever become a household name.
The fame and notoriety came at a price, though. Throughout his career he has been involved in scandals (steroid trials, videos of him making racist comments) and lawsuits (against his doctor). The biggest, however, came when media blog Gawker posted clips from an illicit tape featuring the Hulkster and a then-married woman. Hogan sued for defamation of character and invasion of privacy, among other things.
Hogan had an issue: he had a case, but not enough money to fight it
One would imagine that Hulk Hogan was rolling in money from all his success in wrestling. While that may have been true, he was no longer at an age where he could perform and rake in the cash. What’s more, Gawker and the defense attorneys had a gamplan: stretch this lawsuit on as long as possible. Request more information, demand more documentation, file appeals and motions to prolong the suit. When all was said and done – from the filing of the first cease and desist letter to the agreement on a settlement amount – the case lasted nearly four years.
The thing is: Hogan probably couldn’t have lasted four years. Litigation is expensive, even when only one attorney is involved. Hogan needed to hire a team of legal experts to win the case. Gawker, being a multi-million dollar enterprise of its own – had hired a comparable team. This was set to be a drag-out brawl.
Hogan’s legal turned to legal funding to have a fair chance at obtain justice
So how did he make it through to the end? An outside source (in Hogan’s case it was billionaire Peter Thiel) came along to provide funding to Hogan to continue the case. Even the legend Hulk Hogan could not last through the brutal trial without some outside help, and he once owned an $8mm estate in Bellair. The truth is everyone needs some financial help from time to time, especially when dealing with a lawsuit.
How did Gawker react to the financial backing? They were shocked and dismayed that he was able to receive the lawsuit funding to put him on the same playing field as the defendant. They fought aggressively to find out how he was able to receive the funding, but to no end. In March 2016, a judge issued a verdict of $140,000,000 to be paid to Hogan. While he won’t ultimately receive that much – Hogan and Gawker agreed in November 2016 to settle for a lesser amount – it shows that the pre-settlement funding helped.
Gawker has probably hoped Hogan would accept a smaller amount, knowing he needed to wrap the case up. With the loan he received, Hogan could last as long in the case as Gawker. They thought that having an outside source might damage Hogan’s cause, but it actually helped. A jury found Gawker guilty and a judge handed down a large judgment.
How everyday people can benefit from legal funding just like Hulk Hogan did, no matter the size or scope of the lawsuit
What is the applicability of this in everyday life? Does everyone who has a lawsuit know a billionaire who’s ready to bankroll them? Obviously not.
Companies just like ours, Nova Legal Funding, fund the lawsuits of everyday people on a regular basis and on a national scale. Our goal at Nova Legal Funding is exactly the same as Peter Theil: to put the less-well-off plaintiff on an even playing field with the insurance giants, which results in cases settling for their true value.
Could Hulk Hogan have gotten a $140mm judgment without outside funding? It’s impossible to say for sure. However, what is known is that the defendant was outraged that it happened because it no longer had the upper hand. The end result is also known: a huge verdict and a victory for the Hulkster.