Hulk Hogan stated during his testimony in his case against Gawker he initially thought it was a joke when his best friend said his wife wanted to have sex with him.
That conversation eventually led to a sexual encounter that was taped and later published online in what Hogan emotionally described as a life-changing, “humiliating” experience.
Testifying Monday in his lawsuit against the website Gawker, Hogan said his friend, radio personality Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem, told him in a phone call that his wife Heather wanted to have sex with him. Hogan said he treated it as a joke, but the couple — who he said had an open marriage — kept bringing it up repeatedly.
Hogan testified that when he and Heather eventually did have sex, her husband handed Hogan a condom. Hogan said he felt something was wrong, and he asked if they were being taped. He said Bubba denied it.
“It was so weird and so crazy, my gut was telling me that this was off, this was wrong” Hogan testified. “From the feeling that I had, I said, ‘Bubba you’re not filming this are you?’…he lashed into me.”
He described Bubba the Love Sponge– the character– as “arrogant, cocky, nasty to people on the phone.” However he said, for a long time, the person behind the radio personality a close friend.
“We became so close that we started training every day together,” he said. “We just did everything together, to the point where he helped my daughter with her music. He helped my son with the stuff he wanted to do, and I went through a really tough time when my father passed away… as [my father] took his last breath Bubba was there with me… There was never any question of who he was or what he meant to me. I believed in my heart he was my best friend.”
Hogan said he first became aware there was an explicit tape of his encounter with Heather when TMZ called him and informed him of still images of the incident. He said he was “completely humiliated” by the publication of a video showing him having sex with his then-best friend’s wife.
He recalled first hearing media buzz that Bubba the Love Sponge may have been involved in the release of the tape.
“I couldn’t quit shaking,” he said. The wrestler said definitively he is no longer friends with Bubba the Love Sponge.
For a good half-hour, Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, testified Monday about his early days as a wrestler. He told the court he got into wrestling in the mid-‘70s because he loved it.
“It’s very physical,” he said of the demands of the sport.
Hogan said he has had multiple knee replacements, hip replacements and back surgeries. He said while in the WWE his character, Hulk Hogan, began gaining popularity.
Hogan said he is in character not just when he is in the ring, but almost all the time.
“As the years have passed by, I’ve realized that the moment I leave my home… when I am away from my house it is pretty much 24-hours a day, because no one calls me Terry anywhere… it’s always Hulk Hogan when people see me away from my home,” he said.
Gawker released a statement early Monday morning blasting the professional wrestler for the suit, which could bankrupt the company should Hogan win.
“Three-and-a-half years ago, Gawker showed nine seconds of Hulk Hogan having sex with the wife of his best friend, Bubba the Love Sponge — who actually made the 30-minute tape and appears in it himself,” the statement read. “Hulk Hogan was more than willing to talk about his sex life — including in two autobiographies, a reality TV series and Howard Stern’s radio show — until he didn’t like what Gawker had to say. Now he wants $100 million as compensation. Compare that with the $5,000 settlement that Bubba paid Hulk for the actual taping.”
But Hogan’s team wasn’t impressed with the website’s opening salvo, telling FOX411: “Gawker will do anything, say anything, and attempt anything to disguise what amounts to reprehensible conduct. What they did is apparent. All excuses aside it is time for them to come to terms with their conduct and be held accountable. Their continued efforts to excuse their conduct by distraction will not work with this jury and should not work with the general public.”
A six-member jury will determine whether Gawker violated Hogan’s right to privacy when it published the video of the former professional wrestler having sex with his best friend’s wife. Hogan’s attorneys say it garnered 7 million views.
Hogan says the video was made without his knowledge.
FOX411’s Diana Falzone and The Associated Press contributed to this report.