Hulk Hogan takes on Gawker in Florida sex tape trial

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Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Trial Starts Today

Hulk Hogan's attempted take down of the website Gawker over a secretly recorded sex tape began on Monday as lawyers asked a Florida jury to weigh privacy rights against public interest in a celebrity.

A lawyer for the former professional wrestler said the online gossip site's editors were motivated by power and brand promotion and intended to harm Hogan when they posted an excerpt of a video showing him engaged in an intimate sex act.

"They have essentially replaced sticks and stones with clicks and phones," lawyer Shane Vogt said during his opening statement, noting that 2.5 million people had viewed a clip of the sex-tape over six months.

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Hulk Hogan takes on Gawker in Florida sex tape trial
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2012, file photo, reality TV star and former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, looks on as his attorney speaks during a news at the United States Courthouse in Tampa, Fla. Hogan is suing Gawker for invasion of privacy, after the New York-based website published a tape of Hogan having sex with his then-best friend's wife. The trial starts Monday, July 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
World Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan, left, and Mr. T. appear at a news conference on Sunday, March 18, 1985 in New York?s Madison Square Garden. Mr. T will make his professional wrestling debut on March 31, when he will be teamed with Hogan against Rowdy Roddy Piper and partner Paul Orndorff in the tag team headliner of the World Wrestling Foundation?s ?Wrestlemania.? (AP Photo/Corey Struller)
Cyndi Lauper with Hulk Hogan on Feb. 26, 1985. (AP Photo)
Comedienne Joan Rivers shown with ?Hulk? Hogan in 1985. (AP Photo)
Rock singer Cyndi Lauper, left, speaks to reporters at the Rainbow Grill in New York on Wednesday, May 1, 1985, following an altercation which occurred during a promotional news conference there. At center is actor Mr. T. At right is his wrestling partner, Hulk Hogan. Wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper directed insults at Lauper?s mother. Lauper slapped him. In the ensuing melee, four wrestlers, including Mr. T, tumbled to the floor. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)
Muhammad Ali shown with Liberace, Hulk Hogan on March 29, 1985 at Madison Square Garden for Wrestle Mania in New York City. Ail will referee match. Liberate will be timekeeper. (AP Photo/David Pickoff)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan prepares to slam "Rowdy" Roddy Piper down on the mat during "WrestleMania," a wrestling extravaganza at New York's Madison Square Garden, March 31, 1985. (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine)
Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in New York, May 31, 1985. (AP Photo)
Entertainer Dolly Parton, wearing a wedding dress, is shown with 300-pound wrestler Hulk Hogan during taping of a television special in Los Angeles, Ca., on Sept. 14, 1987. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith)
Hulk Hogan, left, wins back the World Wrestling Federation Title after defeating Macho Man Randy Savage during Wrestlemania V sponsored by Trump Plaza Hotel Casino, Sunday, April 4, 1989, Atlantic City, N.J. The referee is unidentified. (AP Photo/B. Vartan Boyajian)
Randy "Macho Man" Savage holds challenger Hulk Hogan (l-r) in a headlock during the main event for WrestleMania V, Atlantic City, New Jersey, B&W graphic element on black
Pro wrestler Hulk Hogan is shown in this 1991 photo. (AP Photo/File, Chris Martinez)
Dr. George T. Zahorian III, center, an osteopath from Harrisburg, Pa., poses with Vince McMahon, left, and wrestler Hulk Hogan in 1988. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali, left, is pictured staring down wrestling's Hulk Hogan as the two meet at New York City's Planet Hollywood Wednesday, October 6, 1993. Hogan was at the restaurant to donate his pink tutu from his new movie, Mr. Nanny to their movie memorabilia collection when Ali came in for lunch. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Basketball star Dennis Rodman, center, helps his wrestling tag team back to the ring Sunday, March 16, 1997, at the World Championship Wrestling pay-per-view event at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C. At left is Randy "Macho Man" Savage, and at right is his partner Hulk Hogan. (AP Photo/Paula Illingworth)
Hollywood Hulk Hogan puts a choke hold on the neck of Utah Jazz basketball star Karl Malone at a pay-per-view wrestling match Sunday July 12, 1998 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
World Championship Wrestling (WCW) wrestler Hollywood Hogan, right, shakes hands with Nigel Morris, president of Capital One, during a promotional event outside the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, Oct. 1, 1998. Capital One MasterCard, in alliance with WCW, will issue new credit cards depicting the faces of some of WCW's most popular wrestlers. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Professional wrestler Hollywood Hulk Hogan, right, and radio talk show host Don Imus ham it up after Hogan appeared on Imus' show to present a check from Ted Turner for Imus' children's cancer ranch Friday, Nov. 13, 1998, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Hulk Hogan presents his daughter, Brooke Hogan, as they arrive at the MTV Music Video Awards in Miami, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2004. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Pro wrestler Hulk Hogan walks the red carpet during The Radio Music Awards at The Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, Monday Oct. 25, 2004, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Actor Sylvester Stallone, left, wrestler Hulk Hogan, center, and WWE chief Vince McMahon pose for photographers after the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 2, 2005. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan holds up a plaque while speaking after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 2, 2005. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
FILE - in this April 3, 2005, file photo, Hulk Hogan fires up the crowd between matches during WrestleMania 21 in Los Angeles. Hogan, perhaps the biggest star in WWE's 50-year history, is set to bring the red-and-yellow back to the sports entertainment behemoth and will host the April 6, 2014, WrestleMania in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
Wrestlers John Cena, left, and Hulk Hogan joke on stage as they present the Choice Movie Hissy Fit award at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards in Universal City, Calif. on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Hulk Hogan appears on MTV's Total Request Live show Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at MTV studios in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
Hulk Hogan rips off his tee-shirt while appearing on MTV's Total Request Live show Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at MTV studios in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
Hulk Hogan poses during the MTV Video Music Awards Forum at Radio City Music Hall Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006 in New York. The 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by Jack Black, will be held Thursday, Aug. 31, at New York's Radio City Music Hall. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND JAN. 20-21 ** In this undated photo released by Kyle Wood, Kyle Wood, left, and Hulk Hogan pose during a taping of the VH-1 reality show "Hogan Knows Best." (AP Photo/Kyle Wood via La Crosse Tribune)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan arrives at the Ocean Drive/Market America Super Bowl XLI party Saturday night, Feb. 3, 2007, in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris Polk)
New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine, left and wrestling legend and cable television reality show star Hullk Hogan pose for photographers before being honored as 2007 Fathers of the Year by the National Father's Day Committee in New York, Thursday, June 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan, also known as Terry Bollea, makes an appearance at MTV studios in Times Square for MTV's "Total Request Live" to promote his new show "American Gladiators", Monday, Jan. 7, 2008, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
Entertainer Hulk Hogan, who will reign as King Bacchus, celebrates with staff and patients at Children's hospital in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 1, 2008. The Mardi Gras parade will march through the streets of the Crescent City on Sunday evening. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Hulk Hogan, former professional wrestler, flexes his muscles, graphic element on black
Hulk Hogan poses for a portrait Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
Hulk Hogan poses for a portrait Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
Hulk Hogan poses for a portrait Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
Hulk Hogan arrives at Spike TV's Video Game Awards on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in Culver City, Calif. (AP Photo/Joe Kohen)
Reality TV star and former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, looks on as his attorney speaks during a news conference Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 at the United States Courthouse in Tampa, Fla. Hogan says he was secretly taped six years ago having sex with the ex-wife of DJ Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. Portions of the video of Hogan and Heather Clem were posted on the online gossip site Gawker. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Reality TV star and former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, arrives at the United States Courthouse for a news conference Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 Tampa, Fla. Hogan says he was secretly taped six years ago having sex with the ex-wife of DJ Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. Portions of the video of Hogan and Heather Clem were posted on the online gossip site Gawker. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
From left, Orlando Jones and Hulk Hogan participate in FOX's "Sleepy Hollow" autograph signing and panel during New York Comic Con, on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at Javits Convention Center, in New York City, NY. (Photo by Laura Thompson/Invision for FOX Broadcasting/AP Images)
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Hogan, 62, is seeking $100 million in damages from Gawker for posting the nearly two-minute video of him having consensual sex with the wife of his then-best friend, radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge.

Lawyers for the longtime champion of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and reality TV star say he had a right to expect privacy in a private bedroom and the video was filmed without his knowledge.

Gawker argues that its 2012 post is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and contends it was reporting on a celebrity who publicly discussed his sex life.

Gawker's founder, Nick Denton, sat in the front row of the courtroom along with a former editor involved, A.J. Daurlieo.

"Gawker believes this kind of reporting is important," company attorney Mike Berry told jurors. "It is important for writers to be able to address uncomfortable subjects - whether the subject is mental health, whether the subject is drugs, whether the subject is celebrity sex tapes."

He said the company did not make money directly from the post, which was flagged so advertising did not appear with it.

A loss could put Gawker out of business, though the website will appeal an unfavorable verdict, another company attorney said.

Hogan, wearing one of his signature bandanas, is expected to be the first witness to take the stand during the civil trial in St. Petersburg, located in the same county where he lives.

Addressed in court by his legal name, Terry Bollea, he will acknowledge mistakes in the extramarital affair, Vogt said.

"There is still a private side of his life that exists in very few but very important places," Vogt said.

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