Hulk Hogan took the stand in a St. Petersburg, Florida, courtroom Monday afternoon. The former pro wrestler is suing the website Gawker for $100 million after it published a sex tape of Hogan with his former best friend's then-wife.
Hogan, wearing a black bandana, matching suit and a silver cross around his neck, claimed in his testimony that he was set up sometime between 2006 and 2007 by his former best friend, Todd Clem, a radio DJ in Florida, and his then-wife, Heather. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, added that the two repeatedly propositioned Hogan to have sex with Heather Clem.
"It caught me off guard. It was very weird because I had never been approached like that," he said on the stand. "I felt like those people cared about me. I bottomed up. I gave up, gave in and let my guard down and it just happened."
"My gut was telling me that this was off. This was wrong," Hogan added.
Hogan claimed on the stand Monday that he had no idea a sex tape was being made when he had sex with Heather Clem during "a low point in my life" when he was having marital issues with his then-wife, Linda. The two split in 2009 after 26 years of marriage. Hogan is now married to Jennifer McDaniel.
In his opening statement, Gawker’s lawyer Michael Berry claimed Hogan filed his lawsuit in an effort to get “lots and lots of money.” He added that the website’s founder, Nick Denton, wanted “the public to have the simple, unvarnished truth…the unvarnished truth about public figures.”
After TMZ made him aware of the sex tape, and Gawker later published it on its website in 2012, Hogan said he "refused to believe" he was set up by his former best friend, Todd Clem.
"Every time I approached him...he kept saying, 'No I didn't,'" Hogan recalled. "I refused to believe he would do this to me. No one would do this to another person."
The Clems later divorced in 2012, the same year the sex tape was published on Gawker. The video has since been removed from the site.
A six-person jury will determine if Gawker violated Hogan's right to privacy when it published the video. The trial is expected to last three weeks.