Few professional wrestlers have cut as large a figure on the pop culture landscape as Hulk Hogan. For millions of young fans growing up in the 1980s, Hogan was a real-life superhero who encouraged them to say their prayers, take their vitamins and stand up for what's right -- which makes today's revelation of racist comments made by the grappler all the more shocking.
This morning, the National Enquirer and RadarOnline released a joint story involving taped conversations in which Hogan repeatedly used the N-word, complaining about his daughter dating a black man and stating, "I am a racist, to a point" and "I guess we're all a little racist." According to RadarOnline and The Enquirer, transcripts of the conversation have been filed in Florida court, sealed with the intent that they not be made public.
Last night, WWE began scrubbing its website of all mentions of Hogan, taking down stories highlighting his numerous accomplishments over the decades, removing his name from their Hall of Fame and deleting pages from its online store selling products bearing his image and catchphrases. Rumors surfaced on Twitter that an incident from the iconic grappler's past, possibly related to the sex tape that surfaced several years back, was about to become public. Hogan's comments were reportedly captured as part of that sex tape with Heather Clem, radio host Bubba the Love Sponge's ex-wife. A portion of the tape was posted on Gawker in 2012, leading to a currently ongoing $100 million invasion-of-privacy lawsuit between Hogan and Gawker Media.
Once the story went wide, WWE quickly released a statement to the Enquirer, stating, "WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide."
A representative for Hogan says the performer had already resigned from the company.
Hours after his comments became public, Hogan issued a statement of his own to People Magazine apologizing for what he had said.
"Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it. This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs."