At first, Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, thought it an unlikely conspiracy theory.
Now, he's starting to believe it himself.
For the last several years, Mr. Denton has been the target of a lawsuit brought by the wrestler Hulk Hogan in the now-infamous defamation case over Gawker's publication of a sex tape — an editorial choice that recently resulted in a $140 million jury award to Mr. Hogan. The appeals process is likely to drag on for years, and some legal experts predict that the judgment will ultimately be overturned or the award greatly reduced.
During the trial, a low hum of speculation emerged within the legal community that Mr. Hogan's legal case, which dragged on for more than three years, might be funded by someone other than Mr. Hogan — and for reasons other than simply inflicting financial pain on Gawker. At the time, the questions were provoked by several strategic decisions on Mr. Hogan's side that didn't appear economically rational. More on that in a moment. Back then, Mr. Denton dismissed the idea of a third party secretly underwriting Mr. Hogan's case as "rather conspiracy-theorylike."