PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel financing Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker: Report

Paypal's Thiel footing the bill for Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker
Paypal's Thiel footing the bill for Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel funded Hulk Hogan's high-profile legal case against Gawker Media, Forbes reported, citing unnamed sources.

Forbes did not provide detail on how the billionaire PayPal co-founder became connected to former wrestling champion Hogan or whether Thiel was the sole backer.

Andrew Ross Sorkin also identified Thiel as the backer in a separate piece for DealBook.

Just earlier this week, Gawker founder Nick Denton told the New York Times that he suspected Hogan's lawyer, Charles Harder, was being paid by someone other than Hogan.

"My own personal hunch is that it's linked to Silicon Valley, but that's nothing really more than a hunch," Denton was quoted as saying. "If you're a billionaire and you don't like the coverage of you, and you don't particularly want to embroil yourself any further in a public scandal, it's a pretty smart, rational thing to fund other legal cases."

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, won a $140 million lawsuit against Gawker founder Nick Denton and former editor A.J. Daulerio in March, with a Florida jury awarding him $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages. He had sued the gossip news site over the 2012 publication of a sex tape featuring Hogan and a friend's wife.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Thiel has a known dislike of Gawker. In 2007, the media firm attempted to break news about Thiel's sexuality before the billionaire outed himself as gay.

"I'm not particularly flattered by being targeted," Thiel told online publication PEHub in 2009. "I actually think it's sort of the psychology of a terrorist, where it's purely destructive and that [now defunct Gawker publication ] Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda."

Denton told Forbes on Tuesday that he was unaware of Thiel's involvement but said he had "heard that name" alongside others following Hogan's lawsuit.

"What's unique about Gawker is that we're an internet publication and the tech industry is of particular interest to us. There are powerful people in Silicon Valley and the power of Silicon Valley is a relatively new phenomenon," he said.

Thiel, Denton and Hogan's representatives did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the Forbes story.

Read the full Forbes report here.

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