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Peter Thiel says backing Hulk Hogan's Gawker suit was 'one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done'

The billionaire paid lawyers to find plaintiffs for him to support.

Peter Thiel
Tristan Fewings / Getty

Peter Thiel says he backed Hulk Hogan's lawsuits against Gawker Media in order to punish the publisher for stories it ran about him and his friends.

The Silicon Valley billionaire told the New York Times that he was upset about a 2007 article outing him as gay, among other stories.

Hogan won a $140 million verdict against Gawker earlier this year for violating his privacy by publishing a video featuring the pro wrestler having sex with his friend's wife.

But Thiel says he began paying attorneys to scout for lawsuits that he could fund against Gawker Media years ago, after being prompted by "one of my friends [who] convinced me that if I didn’t do something, nobody would."

"It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence," Thiel said. "I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest."

"Even someone like Terry Bollea [Hogan's real name], who is a millionaire and famous and a successful person, didn’t quite have the resources to do this alone," Thiel said.

Thiel added that "it's safe to say" that this isn't the only case against Gawker that he has financed, and that he thinks of it as "one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done."

Earlier on Wednesday, a state court judge in Florida upheld the jury's March verdict. Gawker CEO Nick Denton has long said that he plans to win the case further down the line, on appeal.

Thiel's backing explains why Hogan refused three different settlement offers from Gawker. He estimated that the litigation has cost him around $10 million, and added he has no current plans to sue other news outlets.

"It’s not like it is some sort of speaking-truth-to-power or something going on here," Thiel said. "The way I’ve thought about this is that Gawker has been a singularly terrible bully. In a way, if I didn’t think Gawker was unique, I wouldn’t have done any of this. If the entire media was more or less like this, this would be like trying to boil the ocean."

If you're looking for some of the articles that could explain why Thiel wanted to sue Gawker, here's a good place to start:

Peter Thiel is totally gay, people

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Taxpayer Money

Billionaire Facebook investor's anti-immigrant heresy

Facebook Backer Wishes Women Couldn't Vote

Nick Denton discusses the outing of Peter Thiel

This article originally appeared on

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