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Gawker files for bankruptcy protection in wake of Hulk Hogan lawsuit

Hulk Hogan in court during a break in his trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March.

Hulk Hogan in court during a break in his trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March.

(Steve Nesius / Associated Press)

In the wake of its recent legal defeat at the hands of a billionaire-backed former pro wrestler, embattled news company Gawker Media on Friday filed for bankruptcy protection in New York, listing the recent $130-million judgment against it as by far its biggest liability.

The judgment awarded to former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Gene Bollea, is the company’s only significant liability. A Florida jury this spring awarded the sum to Bollea, who had sued Gawker for invasion of privacy after the company posted an excerpt of a sex tape featuring Bollea and a friend’s wife.

Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel recently confirmed that he bankrolled Bollea’s suit against Gawker, which years ago had outed him as gay.

Chaper 11 bankruptcy could allow Gawker, which unsuccessfully sought to have the judgment stayed, to at least postpone having to pay Bollea. Gawker plans to appeal the jury’s ruling and notes in its filing that the money owed to the former wrestler is “disputed.”

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The filing indicates that Gawker, which publishes its namesake site as well as other properties including Jezebel, Deadspin and Kotaku, will seek $22 million in bankruptcy financing. Such financing could come from digital media company Ziff Davis, which has reportedly submitted an early bid to buy Gawker’s assets.

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