WWE has cut ties with its most recognized name, Hulk Hogan, after a National Enquirer report detailing that the Hulkster had made extensive disparaging, racist remarks on a video that is the focus of an ongoing lawsuit initiated by the retired wrestler against the news and gossip website Gawker.
In the video, part of a sex tape depicting Hogan having sex with the wife of shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, Hogan apparently discussed the relationship of his daughter, Brooke, with the son of a wealthy black businessman, at one point in the video saying that if his daughter was “going to f— some n—–, I’d rather have her marry some eight-foot n—– worth a hundred million dollars.”
Hogan later admitted in the video, according to transcripts published by the Enquirer and Radar on Friday, “I mean, I am a racist, to a point.”
WWE appears to have been tipped off to the developing story on Thursday, because the company begawn undertaking efforts to scrub Hogan’s name from its website, including its online store, before the story broke.
In a statement on Friday, after the report was published, the company confirmed that it had terminated its contract with Hogan.
“WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide,” according to the statement.
Hogan has also issued a statement on the controversy, apologizing for the offensive language.
“This is not who I am,” Hogan said in the statement. “I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”
The WWE contract termination includes cutting Hogan from his role on the Tough Enough reality show and removing his likeness from its latest wrestling video game, WWE 2K16.
The controversy is likely to cost Hogan at least in the tens of thousands of dollars just from his WWE deal, and that’s before factoring in the potential impact on Hogan in terms of lucrative personal appearances that are bread and butter for retired sports superstars.
Hogan is likely for some time to be radioactive to the cadre of promoters who are willing to shell out the big bucks to the stars of yesterday to sell tickets to autograph signings and conventions.
And it’s hard to imagine WWE reversing course anytime soon on its decision to cut ties with Hogan, who had returned amid much fanfare for WrestleMania 30 after a lengthy stint with WWE rival TNA, only to languish on the sidelines with Tough Enough and select cameo appearances, otherwise away from the bright lights of Monday Night Raw, Smackdown and the company’s monthly WWE Network live specials.
The lawsuit against Gawker may very well be it for Hogan as a public person, and don’t expect that one to go well for the former champ, who isn’t going to have a jury full of Mean Genes to sympathize him through what promises to be a grueling cross-examination, if he’s still willing to go through with the trial, that is.
– Story by Chris Graham