ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On one side, you have a man who recorded the sex tape, saved it for posterity and bragged about possibly using the video to extract a fortune.
On the other side is a gossip website that received the tape, spliced it up and disseminated it to millions of people.
The difference between the two? As attorneys for Hulk Hogan see it: $99,995,000.
The ex-pro wrestler is suing Gawker, which published a portion of the sex tape, for $100 million.
But he settled with his former best friend and radio host, Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem, for a mere $5,000, although it was Clem who filmed his buddy having sex.
The video from a surveillance camera in Clem’s bedroom showed Hogan having sex with the radio host’s wife at the time, Heather Clem.
Bubba Clem could be heard on the full tape saying that if he ever wanted to retire, he simply needed to release the video.
Clem originally claimed that Hogan, whose real name is Terry Gene Bollea, knew that he was being recorded. But after striking a settlement with Hogan, Clem walked that back.
Clem, who has denied being responsible for the tape’s leak, has resisted Gawker’s efforts to call him as a witness to be questioned about whether Hogan knew he was being filmed.
A lawyer for Clem filed a motion on Friday asking to be eliminated from the case. “Should these statements prove to be differing, and we do not concede that they are, Mr. Clem could be subject to a state prosecution for perjury or a federal false statement prosecution,” the motion stated.
His attorney had previously said Clem intends to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to not testify against himself. Clem’s request will be considered Monday.
In a statement put out on the first day of Hogan’s civil trial against Gawker Media earlier this week, Gawker made a point to compare the $100 million sought by the plaintiff “with the $5,000 settlement that Bubba paid Hulk for the actual taping.”
“I think it’s telling that he settled with Bubba, who did the recording himself for only $5,000 and is now seeking against a company that presumably has deeper pockets a much, much larger sum,” Heather Dietrick, Gawker’s president and general counsel, told CNNMoney. “We, of course, think that the small bits of the tape we used are newsworthy and revealed something about this very public controversy.”
Hogan’s longtime attorney David Houston said Gawker inflicted more damage on his client than Clem did.
“How many millions of people had seen the video Mr. Clem produced prior to the time Gawker posted it? I think if you can ask yourself that question you come to the same conclusion,” Houston told.
“Mr. Clem’s conduct certainly is not appreciated nor approved by Mr. Bollea. Contrast that in reference to the conduct of Gawker and ask who did the most damage in reference to his legacy, his personal life and his peace of mind.”
Clem addressed the trial on his radio show earlier this week, saying he wants to move on from the controversy.
“This Hogan trial deal is just, man, I know that I’ve plead the Fifth because I’m done,” Clem said. “Basically I plead the Fifth because I’m done being people’s pin cushion around here. And it’s not about me. It’s about Hogan and Gawker, and I hope that Gawker has to pay him a lot of money. Period.”